MSP director faces investigation after calling protesting NFL players 'degenerates' on Facebook

Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue will not be forced to resign by governor

Discussions about Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue, the head of the Michigan State Police, are ramping up after her Facebook post referring to NFL players who protest during the national anthem as "degenerates." (WDIV)

DETROIT – The Michigan State Police says an internal investigation will determine whether the agency's director will be disciplined for sharing a Facebook post that called some NFL players "anti-American degenerates."

Spokeswoman Shanon Banner said in an email Friday that Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue will be treated the same as any other state police employee accused of misconduct.

Banner says if Etue is found to have violated agency policy, she could receive a written reprimand or a five-day suspension.

Etue has apologized, and Gov. Rick Snyder says he won't fire her. Some legislators, civil rights groups and others want her out.

Full statement from MSP

Here's the full statement from MSP:

"All MSP members, including the Colonel, are bound to follow the department’s Official Orders, and can be subject to discipline when a violation of department policy is sustained. The MSP’s policy regarding employee use of social media can be found in section 21.2.4 of Official Order 21.

The Colonel will be treated no differently than other MSP employees. There is a formal internal investigative process that is followed in all cases, and this process is currently underway. If the investigation determines she violated the policy, discipline could range from a written reprimand to a five-day suspension."

You can see the MSP’s policy on employee use of social media below

What happened

Etue shared a post signed "we the people." The meme had 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."

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said Etue had committed a "serious breach of trust" by sharing the Facebook post. He didn't specifically call for the ouster of Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue. 

READ: Michigan State Police director under fire for message calling NFL players 'degenerates' for protest

Duggan says the message "shows a lack of respect for the people she serves and the post she holds." He was joined in the statement by Wayne County Executive Warren Evans.

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."

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.

Allegations of racism on MSP force

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.

Group calls for state police director to be removed

The Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality is calling for Etue to be removed from her position. The coalition calls her post "egregious and racist." 

"This woman, who called the black athletes who courageously engage in completely non-violent protest  'a bunch of rich, entitled, arrogant, ungrateful, anti-American degenerates,' has unveiled an invective of insults reminiscent of our worst examples of racism, hailing back to when blacks were called 'uppity' for daring to speak out against unfair laws and abusive treatment," said Coalition spokesperson Kenneth Reed. "In this, she echoes an equally racist President Trump by amplifying his vulgar comments of a few days ago, when he called our athletes 'SOBs'. Her comments were highly provocative and her heightened rhetoric will only serve to exacerbate tensions between State police and citizens, ultimately leading to even more violence between police and citizens--violence that could eclipse the Rebellion of 1967.

"Etue's words simply reflect the continued racist actions of the Michigan State Police, both in how they treat our citizens and in how their hiring demographics fail to even approach equity. There needs to be complete overhaul of the Department, and we urge the Michigan Black Caucus to call an emergency meeting to address the issue and develop a list of demands on behalf of 'We the People.'

"Etue needs to"

The taking of a knee during the national anthem was started by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick to draw attention to social inequality and police treatment of blacks.

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About the Authors:

Derick is the Lead Digital Editor for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.