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Arizona State University radio station votes to remove manager over Jacob Blake tweet

Arizona State University radio station votes to remove manager over Jacob Blake tweet
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The radio station at Arizona State University on Monday voted to remove a student manager from her position over a controversial tweet about the criminal record of Jacob Blake, the Black man who was shot seven times in the back by a police officer and is now paralyzed in Kenosha, Wis.

The Blaze Radio board of directors voted to remove Rae’Lee Klein as station manager following “extensive discussions.”

“The board gave Klein an opportunity to step down under her own will,” the statement said. “As of the time of this statement, Klein has not made the decision to resign. In light of this, the board wants to make it clear that we do not recognize Rae’Lee Klein as the station manager of Blaze Radio.”

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The student-run radio station is operated by ASU's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. 

The Arizona Republic reported that the vote comes after Klein on Saturday tweeted a link to a New York Post article that included graphic details from the police report for a sexual assault Blake is accused of committing in May.

“Always more to the story, folks. Please read this article to get the background of Jacob Blake’s warrant. You’ll be quite disgusted,” she reportedly wrote in the tweet. 

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Blake was charged July 6 with felony third-degree sexual assault and misdemeanor trespassing and disorderly conduct stemming from a May incident, according to a fact-check analysis from USA Today.

The dispatcher notified officers about his existing warrant, using police radio code as a 10-99, prior to the shooting on Aug. 23.

Klein immediately faced backlash for her tweet, with the Walter Cronkite College Council denouncing it as “factually misleading, discriminatory and racist.”

“We were taught and continue to be guided on the journalism principles to seek truth, minimize harm, act transparently and be accountable,” the council wrote in a statement.

Blaze Radio on Saturday condemned the tweet and wrote that the station believes in the Black Lives Matter movement.

“Blaze Radio is devoted to inclusive media coverage. We will always be open to criticism to grow and change how we conduct ourselves journalistically,” the board of directors wrote. “We believe that human rights are not a political issue and we know the importance of antiracism.”

Klein deleted the tweet and issued an apology on Saturday, saying it was “not my intent to make an excuse for what happened to Jacob Blake.”

“The incident is tragic in every sense of the word. The point of my tweet was to provide an additional perspective,” she wrote.

She noted that the tweet came from her personal account and was not meant to be associated with Blaze, the Cronkite School or ASU.

“I’m grateful for the conversations I’ve been able to have with people who have offered differing opinions,” Klein wrote. “I, as a student journalist, did not take into account the harm this may have further caused and I am committed to minimizing harm as I try to seek truth. Again, I apologize.”

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However, Klein told The Arizona Republic that, to her understanding, she has not been removed from her position.

“I feel that people thought I meant that Jacob Blake was disgusting, but that was not at all the intent,” Klein said. “I really meant that what had happened to the woman in the report was disgusting.”

“I don’t think there’s a person alive who would say that what happened to Blake is OK,” she added.

Klein attributed the backlash from her tweet to the “mob mentality” and “cancel culture” on Twitter.

"This will be a learning lesson for everybody on how what you say online can be misinterpreted," Klein said, before adding: “This will definitely make me think about how I phrase things going forward. But this doesn’t at all change my beliefs or my moral compass.”