LANSING, Mich. (AP) — An internal investigation will determine whether the director of the Michigan State Police will be disciplined for sharing a Facebook post that called NFL players protesting during the national anthem “anti-American degenerates,” the agency said Friday.
Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue will be treated the same as any other state police employee accused of misconduct, State Police spokeswoman Shanon Banner said. If she is found to have violated the agency’s social media policy, discipline could range between a written reprimand and a five-day suspension based on what has been assessed for similar violations, Banner said.
Etue has apologized, and Republican Gov. Rick Snyder has said he will not fire her despite calls from Democratic lawmakers, a gubernatorial candidate, civil rights groups and others for her ouster.
Etue on Sunday shared a meme on her personal Facebook account signed “We the People.” It called NFL players who kneel during the national anthem “millionaire ingrates who hate America and disrespect our armed forces and veterans.”
The Michigan State Police social media policy allows employees to express themselves as private citizens “to the degree that their postings do not impair working relationships, impede the performance of duties, impair discipline and harmony among co-workers, or negatively affect the public perception of the department.”
It also warns workers that their internet communications may provide grounds for impeaching their credibility during judicial and other proceedings.
Snyder said this week that Etue has “had a very distinguished career.”
“How many people in life go throughout life without making some mistake? The thing is do you recognize you made a mistake, apologize, learn from that and move forward,” the governor said.
Republican state senators also defended Etue in a contentious debate with Democrats.
The taking of a knee during the national anthem was started last year by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick to draw attention to racial injustice and police brutality.
Etue posted on Facebook on Sunday, the same day more than 100 NFL players sat, knelt or raised their fists in defiance during the anthem after President Donald Trump had said players who protest should be fired.
“It is clear that Col. Etue does not understand the nature of the protests, nor respect the constitutional rights of citizens to peacefully protest,” said the chairman of the Michigan Legislative Black Caucus, Democratic Rep. Sheldon Neeley of Flint. “This calls into question her ability and objectivity to lead the men and women in her department who are charged with not just enforcing laws, but also protecting and serving all communities, regardless of race or ethnicity.”