Former Miss Alabama Admits She Shouldn't Have Called Dallas Gunman 'a Martyr'... But Won't Pull Video
The first black woman crowned Miss Alabama is standing by a controversial video in which she called the Dallas gunman a "martyr" -- but admits it was a poor choice of words.
Speaking to Inside Edition Tuesday, Kalyn Chapman James said she was emotional while recording the video, which made her the target of national backlash.
"I do wish that I hadn't used [that word] in my video," she said.
She explained: "I only used the word in the context of a person who feels like they're dying for something they believe in. What he did was wrong... He is not a hero. I feel like that's what he thought he was. But no, he's not a hero to me. I don't condone what he did."
Still, her video will remain online, she said.
"As long as people know that that video is just an expression of my sadness and anger and hurt, and that it is not a call to incite more violence, then I’m fine with the video being there," she said.
James immediately felt public ire for her description of gunman Micah Johnson as commenters assailed her for her lack of empathy in the wake of five tragic deaths.
"People are calling me a terrorist and calling me a racist," she said.
Others have reached out to her to say they understand, she added.
"I'm not a racist," she said. "I feel that people regardless of their race, they should feel safe in the streets."
In the two-minute video, James said she felt a need to speak out because she was feeling "conflicted" about her inability to feel sad for the officers following the shootings of two black men by cops.
"I don't want to feel this way," she said in the video. "I don't feel sad for the officers who lost their lives.
"I know that's not really my heart. I value human life. And I want to feel sad for them but I can't help but feeling like the shooter was a martyr."
James' employer, the South Florida PBS affiliate WPBT, suspended after the video went viral.
"WPBT2 South Florida PBS does not condone the personal statements made by one of its independent contractors regarding the events in Dallas," the statement said in a statement posted to Twitter.
The Miss Alabama organization has also issued a statement on the matter.
"Kalyn Chapman James was Miss Alabama 23 years ago in 1993. The opinions she expressed are her own, and do not represent the viewpoint of the current Miss Alabama or the Miss Alabama Organization. We have nothing but the utmost respect and appreciation for the men and women of law enforcement, and would never condone violence of any kind."