The director of the Michigan State Police is expected to meet at the Capitol Thursday with a group of state lawmakers who want her to resign over a controversial Facebook post.
Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue is scheduled to meet with the Legislative Black Caucus, which includes Democratic members from the House and Senate, said Rep. Sheldon Neeley, D-Flint, who chairs the caucus.
Etue shared a message on her personal Facebook page Sept. 24 that said athletes who take a knee during the pre-game national anthem — an action several of the players have described as a symbolic protest against racial oppression and incidents of police brutality against blacks — are "millionaire ingrates who hate America and disrespect our armed forces and veterans" and "a bunch of rich, entitled, arrogant, ungrateful, anti-American degenerates."
The message, which could only be directly viewed by Etue's friends, drew outrage when it was first reported by the Free Press on Sept. 26.
The Legislative Black Caucus was one of several groups that called on Etue to resign, and "our position has not changed," Neeley told the Free Press Wednesday.
"We're meeting her not so much to chastise, but more to figure out how we can strengthen the department and make it more diverse," Neeley said.
"Recruitment of African Americans is anemic" at the MSP, and there's been a raft of lawsuits alleging racial discrimination by black troopers, one of which resulted in a multi-million-dollar jury award, Neeley noted.
Rep. Leslie Love, D-Detroit, a member of the black caucus, said she found the meme Etue shared "shocking," and "I can't have Michigan's top cop making ignorant comments like that."
Republican Gov. Rick Snyder was also invited to attend the meeting, but instead will meet separately with the caucus next week, Neeley said.
Snyder has rejected calls for Etue's resignation, saying through a spokeswoman that she made a mistake and apologized and "has served with distinction as an outstanding public servant for decades."
Many lawmakers and members of the public have also come to Etue's defense, saying she enjoys the same free speech rights as the protesting athletes.
Meanwhile, an investigation into whether Etue violated the department’s social media policy could be wrapped up early next week, said MSP spokeswoman Shanon Banner.
Among other things, the policy prohibits the posting of messages that might be considered to represent the view of the department, without authorization, as well as postings that ridicule, malign, disparage, or otherwise express bias against any race, religion, or protected class of individuals."
Banner said Wednesday the investigation is being handled by the department's professional standards section.
"This case should not be overly complicated, so we’re hoping to be able to wrap it up soon, possibly as early as next week," Banner said.
She couldn't provide information on how many MSP employees have been disciplined for violating the social media policy, but said penalties have ranged from a written reprimand to a five-day suspension.