Metro Detroit prosecutor sparks outrage with Robert E. Lee birthday post

Macomb County Prosecutor Peter J. Lucido blames staff for commemorating confederate leader's birthday

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A suburban Detroit prosecutor apologized on Friday after facing backlash for posting a quote from Robert E. Lee on social media to commemorate the confederate general’s birthday.

Macomb County Prosecutor Peter J. Lucido said on Friday that the now-deleted posts were uploaded to his accounts by his communications director without his direct approval, and apologized for “any stress the post created,” The Detroit News reported. 

“Unfortunately, the greater context of Robert E. Lee, his support of the Confederate States, relationship to our shameful slave history and the hurtful nature of commemorating him to many in our community, was not considered,” Lucido said in a statement, according to the outlet.

Then-Michigan Senator Peter Lucido listens to one of his constituents, Roger Van Pamel, 72 of Washington Township, argue with someone else during his town hall at the Washington Activity Center on Friday, January 17, 2020 in Washington Township, Michigan. (Eric Seals, Eric Seals, Detroit Free Press via Imagn Content Services, LLC)

Lee, born Jan. 19, 1807, was a commander of the Confederate States Army, which fought with Union states between 1860-1865 in the Civil War. Southern states sought to leave the U.S. in large part over the issue of slavery in the country. Michigan was a part of the Union.

“I do not support or condone Robert E. Lee’s role in the American Civil War or what the Confederate Army was trying to achieve,” Lucido’s statement continued.

He added that the county will be adopting a review process for social media posts going forward.

The post, shared on the prosecutor’s Facebook and Twitter profiles, included a quote from Lee and a photo of a statue that once stood in Richmond, Virginia.

“But what a cruel thing is war: to separate and destroy families and friends, and mar the purest joys and happiness God has granted us in this world; to fill our hearts with hatred instead of love for our neighbors, and to devastate the fair face of this beautiful world,” the quote from Lee reads, according to the News.

The post additionally contained Lucido’s name and title, as well as the seals of the state of Michigan and county of Macomb, which borders Detroit.

Detroit is the largest majority-Black city in the country. Macomb is nearly 80% white and voted overwhelmingly in favor of Donald Trump in both the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections.

ROBERT E LEE RICHMOND STATUE
The statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee in Richmond, Va., was taken down on Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021, more than 130 years after it was erected. (Credit: Jack Gruber-USA TODAY)

Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel released a statement on Friday calling the posts “disturbing,” per the Detroit News.

Days prior to the post, Lucido was accused in a lawsuit of firing a former assistant prosecutor in retaliation for cooperating in a 2022 investigation against him. The probe found that Lucido had made sexually inappropriate comments to employees and assigned duties based on race, according to the News.

Lucido denied the findings and called the investigation a “witch hunt,” per the outlet.

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