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The Franklin coroner posted a ‘white power’ meme. Some say his apology isn’t enough

The Franklin County coroner is apologizing for sharing a racist meme on his personal Facebook page this week, saying it was a mistake.

Dan Blasdel promptly removed the image and told some upset Facebook commenters: “If I did offend you I am truly sorry, I did not mean to do that. Please accept my sincerest apology.”

The meme with a photo of a white farmer said: “When is white history month?”

In one corner of the photo is a symbol of a white raised fist used by some white supremacists with the words: “100% White, 100% Proud.”

Blasdel, who has been coroner for 24 years, said he didn’t see the fist and didn’t know what it meant. He said he doesn’t support Nazis and white supremacists so didn’t recognize the meaning of the white power fist.

“The purpose of sharing the post was only in my mind a tongue-and-cheek poke that nowadays, it seems that the only minorities are the white male,” he said.

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Blasdel said once someone told him what the fist meant, he took the meme down.

Earlier this month, he shared an image of two women wearing only G-strings with their backsides covered in tattoos and several posts criticizing liberals, including Gov. Jay Inslee.

One post shows a prison and says: “The perfect home for liberals ... Everyone is treated equally. Free Food. Free medical/healthcare. Only the police and guards have guns. Liberal Paradise.”

Blasdel apologized for the photo of the women, saying he shared it because he was asking a nephew who is a tattoo artist if that was his artwork.

But Blasdel, a Republican, defended the political posts.

“The jokes about liberals and conservatives, go back and forth,” he told the Herald.

He told commenters and the Herald he no longer planned to “post, share or voice anything on Facebook from now on.”

Many of the 50 comments on his apology supported him.

Pasco Mayor Matt Watkins publicly condemned Blasdel’s use of the meme, but his comment disappeared when Blasdel took down his original post.

Several others, in particular some Democrats, criticized him.

Blasdel said he is not a racist and noted that his grandson is half-black. He also said he grew up in the Yakima Valley, where Latinos outnumbered whites in school, and, “They weren’t a different color. They were just like everybody else.”

“If I was racist,” Blasdel said, “I wouldn’t have spent two years of my life bringing (Antonio Zambrano-Montes) to inquest. Democrats saw an opportunity to throw me under the bus, and they took it.”

As coroner, Blasdel pushed the county for an inquest into the officer-involved killing of Zambrano-Montes. The inquest found the Pasco officers’ actions were justified.

The state Latino Civic Alliance honored Blasdel with the Latino Legislative Award last year.

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Felix Vargas, chairman of Pasco’s Consejo Latino, said that it’s regrettable for a public official to make any kind of hurtful statement.

“It kind of sets us back,” he said. “It makes it more difficult to achieve our goals.”

In addition, Vargas called Blasdel’s role in the Zambrano-Montes case “insignificant” and “political gamesmanship.”

Vargas said the apology was the “correct thing to do” and “an important and positive step,” but that Blasdel “should know better than that.”

Jake Dorsey: 509-582-1405, @JakeD_TRI

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