Michigan state senator apologizes for wearing mask resembling Confederate flag to session

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LANSING, Mich. — A Republican state senator has apologized for wearing a face mask resembling a Confederate flag during a contentious session Friday over Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s emergency powers during the pandemic.

Sen. Dale Zorn told WLNS Friday that the red face covering with white stars inside of thick blue stripes was not the Confederate flag, but said he knew it “would raise some eyebrows.”

His wife made it for him, he told WLNS, and said it was more similar to the Tennessee or Kentucky flag.

Following the WLNS report, Zorn on Saturday apologized on social media for his choice face mask pattern.

“I did not intend to offend anyone; however, I realize that I did, and for that I am sorry,” he wrote. “Those who know me best know that I do not support the things this pattern represents.

“My actions were an error in judgment for which there are no excuses, and I will learn from this episode.”

At some point during Friday’s Senate session, Zorn removed the mask and told WLNS reporter Kiyerra Lake he didn’t want his actions “to cause a negative effect to the institution.”

“Even if it was a Confederate flag, we should be talking about teaching our national history in schools and that’s part of our national history and it’s something we can’t just throw away because it is part of our history,” Zorn told WLNS.

“If we want to make sure that the atrocities that happened during that time doesn’t happen again we should be teaching it. Our kids should know what that flags stand for.”

When Lake asked Zorn what the flag stood for, he said “the Confederacy.”

Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, a Republican, does not believe the mask was the Confederate flag, his spokeswoman Amber McCann said.

Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich, a Democrat, said he was “at a loss for words.”

“I’m just really disappointed to see him make a choice that is deeply hurtful to so many people,” Ananich said “Additionally, when he was called out for it, he didn’t seem to even understand or acknowledge what the problem was.

“At a time when tensions are high and Michiganders are dying, this is a terrible distraction from the conversations we are having about how to save more lives.”

Zorn’s comments came as the GOP-led Senate voted along party lines to approve a bill limiting the emergency powers of the governor and create an oversight committee to assess the governor’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.


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