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Lansing — A self-proclaimed progressive organization delivered a petition with 85,000 signatures gathered from around the country to Gov. Rick Snyder’s office Friday calling on the Republican governor to fire State Police chief Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue.

A group called Color of Change sent Snyder the petition after the governor said Thursday he was docking five days of pay for the State Police chief over a social media post Etue shared mocking “degenerate” professional football players for silent protests during the national anthem.

Group spokesman Usamah Andrabi said about 4,000 of the signatures were from Michigan residents. He said many signatures are likely from large coastal cities and other cities in the Midwest.

Snyder has said in the past that he will not ask Etue to resign. His office has said that the governor plans to reappoint her in 2018 as State Police director.

Other supporters have said Etue had a free speech right to share the message, which was posted Sept. 24 on her private Facebook page. Critics of protesting National Football League players say the silent kneeling disrespects members of the military and the country.

The state’s Legislative Black Caucus, which originally called for her resignation, softened its stance and instead hoped Snyder would demote Etue to a “non-leadership position,” said Caucus Chairman Rep. Sheldon Neeley, D-Flint.

The Detroit chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has also called on Etue to resign.

“Gov. Snyder has a decision to make -- which side of history does he want to be on? Colonel Etue has made her decision. NFL players who have kneeled during the national anthem have used their national stage to bring attention to an epidemic of systemic violence against Black and Brown people,” Color of Change Executive director Rashad Robinson said in a statement.

“Colonel Etue used her stage to racially attack these brave men as ‘ingrates’ and ‘degenerates’ for voicing their opinions,” Robinson continued. “And behind those words lay a disturbing record of failing to hold police accountable for killing Black people and overseeing a department that is severely lacking in diversity. Michigan needs leadership that will work with communities to end racism not denigrate and silence those who are calling for change.”

mgerstein@detroitnews.com

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