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Blasier apologizes for comment

ESCANABA — An Escanaba City Council member who suggested shooting violent protesters during the city’s Independence Day celebration issued an apology Friday for the statement, which was intended as humor.

During a discussion held during Thursday’s regular city council meeting about whether or not an Independence Day fireworks display should be held as scheduled in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Council Member Ralph Blasier read from a “press release” he drafted to set guidelines for social distancing. While the first three paragraphs set down pandemic-related guidelines for groups and individuals, the fourth paragraph of the statement shifted focus drastically.

“‘Any person throwing objects at police, shooting at anyone, looting and setting fires will be shot in both legs and left lying there till dawn, and at dawn, each person will need to crawl to the hospital,'” Blasier read, before adding, “I mean, this text for your public announcement, people might want to alter it some. This is just the first draft. If I were alone in charge of the city, this is what I would publish, but I can see where some people might, change it a little bit.”

There was no question at the meeting that the statement was intended as a joke, but the reference to violent protests taking place across the nation in response to the death of George Floyd — a black man, who died after Derek Chauvin, a white Minneapolis Police officer, knelt on his neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds — fell flat.

On Friday, Blasier sent a statement to the Daily Press apologizing for comment.

“During the June fourth City Council meeting, I made it clear that the fourth paragraph in my statement about fireworks on July 3 was intended as humor. Obviously, many people did not think it was as funny as I did. I apologize to anyone and everyone who was offended.

“On the other hand, it is the same advice that presidential-candidate Biden gave two days earlier. I think that’s where I got the idea,” Blasier wrote.

The statement went on to include a link to a New York Post article from June 2 about a statement made by presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden while speaking to the African American Community Monday at Bethel AME Church in Wilmington, Del.

“Instead of standing there and teaching a cop when there’s an unarmed person coming at them with a knife or something, shoot them in the leg instead of the heart. There’s a lot of different things that can change,” Biden said at the event.

Blasier’s statement came just days before a protest of police brutality against African Americans was set to take place in the city. The event, which has been organized at least in part through Facebook, is called “Bring Escanaba into 2020” and is set to take place at 3 p.m. today at the Municipal Dock. Posts on the event’s page stressed nonviolence, cooperation with the Escanaba Public Safety Department, and recommendations for those who wanted to show solidarity with the protest but could not participate due to COVID-19 or other health concerns. No posts on the event page referenced Blasier’s comments as of Friday afternoon.

“When I made my comments had no idea that there was going to be a protest. I mean I just didn’t know about it,” Blasier told the the Daily Press, which reached out to him for further comment Friday afternoon.

Blasier reiterated his statement at Thursday’s city council meeting was an “attempt at humor that failed.”

“Having said that, I ate lunch today at a restaurant and people were coming up to me and saying how funny that was. I’m not going to give names, I just wouldn’t do that. So not everybody was offended, but some people were,” he said.

When asked about Biden’s comments in Delaware and how they related to his own, Blasier described the former-vice president’s comments as “insane.”

“I didn’t actually misquote him. I didn’t need to. I mean, that doesn’t justify my actions, but I’m not alone. I mean the VP, the presidential candidate did something equally stupid,” he said.

Blasier went on to say that repeated simulations have shown if a person with a knife is attacking someone with a holstered firearm within a 21-foot distance, the assailant can kill the armed individual before the firearm is drawn.

“I’ve studied this for decades — and I came from Detroit where I had gunshots every night I was on duty,” said Blasier, who is a retired surgeon.

When asked if he had any further comments from the prospective of a medical professional about the suggestion to leave shot rioters in the street and make them crawl to the hospital, Blasier reiterated the comment was facetious.

“Obviously, that was a failed attempt at humor. I mean, nobody would leave them in the street and nobody would make them crawl to the hospital. I thought it would be even more obvious that that was sarcastic and not meant for serious consumption. Obviously, some people took it as serious,” he said.

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