The first black woman ever crowned Miss Alabama has stoked outrage after recording a tearful video in which she admits she "can't help feeling like the shooter was a martyr" in response to the murder of five Dallas cops.
Kalyn Chapman James, who held the title in 1993, posted the controversial message to Facebook after church Sunday because she was feeling "conflicted" about her inability to feel sad for the officers after watching recent questionable shootings of two black men by cops.
"I don't want to feel this way," James, who is now employed at a Miami-area television station, said in the two-minute 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."
The Mobile native's video received immediate backlash as commenters assailed her for her lack of empathy in the wake of five tragic deaths.
"People are calling me stupid, ugly, saying beauty queens are fed to apes in Africa, saying I am a poster child for liberals...and more," James wrote in a Facebook post. "I'm not even offended because they were saying this about black people long before I made this video. It's mostly what I expect from white people in my HOME state of alabama. But some who commented here are my real friends and I thank you for being open to my honest expression of grief, sadness, guilt and pain."
While James kept the video up, she has since clarified her comments in statement to AL.com.
"My heart and my mind were conflicted because these are difficult and very emotional times for so many people. I went to church to address my feelings and deal with them from a perspective of forgiveness and love. Especially forgiving myself for feeling that way. I regret that any people lost their lives this week and I am saddened by all of the shootings that occurred, but this is about me."
She added: "When reading about the killings of those black men, I was mortified by some of the comments about them. Many people were not conflicted at all about those deaths. Some were okay with this. These are raw wounds that are fresh and, while I apologize if I offended anyone, I cannot help the way I feel as I continue to process these events and deal with the flood of emotions that come from witnessing such atrocities," she wrote.
James' employer, the South Florida PBS affiliate WPBT, has suspended her despite her clarification.
"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."