DETROIT – Discussions about the head of the Michigan State Police are ramping up Wednesday after her Facebook post referring to NFL players who protest during the national anthem as "degenerates."
In the Senate, numerous Democrats called for Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue's resignation, while Republicans spoke up in her support, citing her First Amendment rights.
The American Civil Liberties Union and the Michigan Legislative Black Caucus are the latest groups to call for Etue's firing, but Gov. Rick Snyder is standing by her after the Facebook post.
"It was a mistake to share this message on Facebook and I sincerely apologize to anyone who was offended," Etue said in a message released Tuesday night by MSP. "I will continue my focus on unity at the Michigan State Police and in communities across Michigan."
A meme has been making its way around the internet since Friday night, when President Donald Trump spoke out against NFL players who protest during the national anthem. It's an open letter to the NFL that includes a line saying, "We stand with the heroes, not a bunch of rich, entitled, arrogant, ungrateful, anti-American degenerates. Signed, we the people."
Etue shared the meme on her Facebook page, and reaction was swift to criticize the leader of a force that has a documented history of a lack of diversity.
A recent Local 4 Defenders investigation uncovered allegations of racism that led to lawsuits and also revealed a dwindling number of black troopers on the MSP force. Even fewer are coming out of the police academy.
"In that kind of statement, or approval of that statement, it expresses a value system," said Leonard Mungo, who recently filed a class-action lawsuit against MSP.
He said the fact that this came from the top is what's most troubling to him.
"As a chief law enforcement officer, (she is) expressing (her) inability to enforce the law to the best of (her) ability," Mungo said.
Local 4 received an email from the governor's spokesperson about why Snyder won't ask Etue to resign:
"The colonel said she made a mistake and publicly apologized. She has served with distinction as an outstanding public servant for decades."