Miami's WPBT2 Suspends Host Kalyn Chapman James for Calling Dallas Shooter a "Martyr"

Miami's WPBT2 TV host Kalyn Chapman James has been suspended from her job for calling Micah Xavier Johnson, the man who killed five police officers at an anti-police-brutality march in Dallas last week, a "martyr" in a video she posted Sunday.

In the video, James, filming from her car after church, said she'd been feeling torn up and conflicted over the recent shooting in Dallas.

"My heart weeps, but I think more than anything, I'm dealing with a bit of guilt," she said before bursting into tears. "Because I don't feel sad for the officers that lost their lives. I know that's really not 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. And I know it's not the right way to feel because nobody deserves to lose their lives."

But, she said, she was "so torn up in her heart" about the recent shootings of black men such as Louisiana's Alton Sterling and Minnesota's Philando Castile that she "can't help but feel like I wasn't surprised by what the [Dallas] shooter did."

James, a former beauty queen who became the first black Miss Alabama, currently hosts the program Art Loft on WPBT2, Miami's PBS affiliate. 

In response to James' video, WPBT2 announced via Twitter that it had placed James on temporary administrative leave while the station "carefully looks further into the matter:"

New Times has left James phone calls and Facebook messages. We'll update the post if we hear back. 

James gave the following statement to Huntsville, Alabama's Sunday:
"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 not about me. 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 — both against citizens and officers of the law. The fact that my opinion was considered newsworthy makes me feel like speaking up was exactly what I should do, because I can voice what so many people are feeling and dealing with and they should know they are not alone. I reiterate that I do not condone violence or killing at all. I offer my deepest condolences to all the families who lost their loved ones this week, including the officers in Dallas."

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Jerry Iannelli is a former staff writer for Miami New Times from 2015 to March 2020. He graduated with honors from Temple University. He then earned a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University.