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Kalyn Chapman James called the Dallas shooter a martyr, but tells CNN she does not condone his actions

James was crowned Miss Alabama in 1993

CNN —  

The first African-American woman to be crowned Miss Alabama stirred up a lot of controversy when she called the man who shot and killed five Dallas police officers a “martyr.”

Kalyn Chapman James posted a Facebook video on Sunday where she told viewers that she didn’t feel sad for the officers who lost their lives, and that she’s more upset at seeing black men being gunned down by police.

“I’m dealing with a bit of guilt,” she said, because “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.”

Speaking Wednesday on CNN’ “New Day,” she told anchor Poppy Harlow: “Honestly, the video was me trying to reconcile my feelings, trying to understand why I felt that way.”

“And I think people latched on to one word.”

James stopped short of saying she wouldn’t use the word again, saying that the definition of a martyr is someone who dies for their beliefs, and that’s the context in which she meant to use it.

Since she posted the video, she’s been placed on leave from her job as a television host on WPBT2 in Miami, and has even received death threats.

“While I detest the killing of those officers and the taking of innocent lives, I did, in a way, I understood what could drive the shooter to do something like that,” James told Harlow. “I don’t consider him a hero.”

James won the Miss Alabama title in 1993, and was a semifinalist for Miss America.

“Kalyn Chapman James was Miss Alabama 23 years ago in 1993,” Miss Alabama pageant organizers told “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.”