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John Wayne’s son has lashed out at calls to dump his dad’s name from a California airport, insisting his dad “was not a racist” — and would even have “pulled those officers off of George Floyd” were he alive.

Ethan Wayne told Fox News Monday that it would be an “injustice” to rename John Wayne Airport in Orange County because of a 1971 interview in which his father said he supported white supremacy and dismissed the pain of slavery.

“Let me make one thing clear — John Wayne was not a racist,” the actor’s 58-year-old son told Fox News.

Ethan acknowledged the “pain and anger” caused by the bigoted words in his dad’s 1971 Playboy article, but said it was an “injustice to judge him based on a single interview” where his “feelings were wrongly conveyed.”

“The truth is … he did not support ‘white supremacy’ in any way and believed that responsible people should gain power without the use of violence,” Ethan told Fox.

“He called out bigotry when he saw it. He hired and worked with people of all races, creeds, and sexual orientations.

“John Wayne stood for the very best for all of us — a society that doesn’t discriminate against anyone seeking the American dream.”

In fact, his dad — who was 72 when he died from cancer in 1979 — “would be in the forefront demanding fairness and justice for all people” if he were alive today, his son insisted to the network.

“He would have pulled those officers off of George Floyd, because that was the right thing to do. He would stand for everyone’s right to protest and work toward change,” he told Fox.

A statue of John Wayne on display in John Wayne Airport, in Orange County, California.Getty Images

“The current focus on social justice is absolutely valid and necessary. But attempts by some to use it for political advantage distracts from real opportunities for reform,” insisted Ethan, the president of John Wayne Enterprises.

In his damning Playboy interview, Wayne had said, “I believe in white supremacy until the blacks are educated to a point of responsibility.”

“I don’t feel guilty about the fact that five or 10 generations ago these people were slaves,” he also insisted.

As a part of the trend to remove memories of America’s racist past, leaders of Orange County’s Democratic Party used the almost-50 years old interview to campaign to dump his name from the area’s airport.

“An international airport that serves millions of people each year should not be named for someone who, in real life, opposed our nation’s values of opportunity and justice for all,” Ada Briceño, chair of the Democratic Party of Orange County, said in a statement. “Now is the time for change.”

The airport was renamed in his honor in 1979 — the year he died — and a statue of Wayne was also erected on site in 1982.

With Post wires

Filed under airports ,  california ,  john wayne ,  protests ,  racism ,  6/30/20 Share this article: Share this:
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    Tags: racism airports california john wayne protests racism

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    Lawyer: Over 150 Minneapolis officers seeking disability, cite PTSD after death of George Floyd

    MINNEAPOLIS -- More than 150 Minneapolis police officers are filing work-related disability claims after the death of George Floyd and ensuing unrest, with about three-quarters citing post-traumatic stress disorder as the reason for their planned departures, according to an attorney representing the officers.

    Their duty disability claims, which will take months to process, come as the city is seeing an increase in violent crime and while city leaders push a proposal to replace the Minneapolis Police Department with a new agency that they say would have a more holistic approach.

    While Floyd's death in May and the unrest that followed are not the direct cause of many of the disability requests, attorney Ron Meuser said, those events and what Meuser called a lack of support from city leadership were a breaking point for many who had been struggling with PTSD from years on the job. Duty disability means the officer was disabled while engaged in inherently dangerous acts specific to the job.

    "Following the George Floyd incident, unfortunately it became too much and as a result they were unable to, and are unable to, continue on and move forward," Meuser said. "They feel totally and utterly abandoned."

    He said many officers he represents were at a precinct that police abandoned as people were breaking in during the unrest. Some officers feared they wouldn't make it home, he said, and wrote final notes to loved ones. People in the crowd ultimately set fire to the building.

    Mayor Jacob Frey issued a statement saying that COVID-19 and unrest following Floyd's death tested the community and officers in profound ways. He said cities need resources to reflect the realities on the ground.

    RELATED | George Floyd's final moments detailed in newly released body camera transcripts

    "In the meantime, I am committed to supporting those officers committed to carrying out their oath to serve and protect the people of Minneapolis during a challenging time for our city," he said.

    Meuser said in recent weeks, 150 officers have retained his office for help in filing for duty disability benefits through the state's Public Employment Retirement Association, or PERA. So far, 75 of them have already left the job, he said.

    Police spokesman John Elder questioned Meuser's figure of 150, though he does expect an increase in departures. The department currently has about 850 officers and will adjust staffing to ensure it can do its job, he said.

    The city said it has received 17 PTSD workers compensation claims in the last month, but when it comes to PERA duty disability, officers are not obligated to notify the Police Department that an application was submitted. Meuser said the city isn't being transparent about departures, and the numbers it sees will lag as PERA benefits take months to process.

    Doug Anderson, executive director for PERA, said 150 officers seeking duty disability from one department would be high. PERA approved 105 disability applications from both police and firefighters statewide in all of 2019, including 60 claims for duty-related PTSD and 20 for other work-related injuries.

    PERA is primarily a retirement plan, in which members and employers contribute funds. Members who become disabled can receive a disability benefit until age 55, at which time retirement benefits kick in.

    A high percentage of those on duty disability do not return to the job, Anderson said.

    "It's a disability that as a general rule is a permanent designation entitling them for benefits for the rest of their life," Meuser said.

    A high number of people taking PERA disability likely won't impact the city budget immediately, as the city's rate of contribution to the plan is fixed, though the Minnesota Legislature could increase contribution rates. The city can incur significant costs if the leave is classified as "duty disability," because the city would continue to pay for the officer's health insurance.

    To apply, an officer needs supporting documents from two physicians. A third-party administrator ensures applications are complete. If there is a discrepancy, PERA can require an independent medical evaluation. The Police Department could also challenge an application, and there is a process for appeal. Denials and appeals are uncommon, Anderson said.

    Meuser made his announcement amid an increase in violent crime. From Thursday night to Friday morning alone, nine people were shot in Minneapolis, including one fatally. Police data analyzed by the Star Tribune show that at least 243 people have been shot so far this year, compared with 269 in all of 2019.

    Asked about his timing, Meuser said he believes Minneapolis officers are being unfairly tarnished, and it's time to call out "decades of failed leadership" in the city.

    Meuser opposes calls to dismantle or defund the Police Department, and said he hopes the news that veteran officers are leaving will make the public reassess the city's current trajectory.

    "The men and women in public safety who give their heart and soul to serve Minneapolis and keep it safe deserve to have Minneapolis leaders to step up and supporting them," he said. "Instead of spending time plotting the dismantling of the force, let's come together to improve community trust and work towards a safer city for all."

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