Michigan State Senator Apologizes for Wearing Mask That Suggests Confederate Symbol

A Michigan state senator who wore a protective face mask that appears to resemble the Confederate flag has since apologized, saying he had no intentions to offend anyone.

State Senator Dale Zorn, a Republican who represents Ida Township in the southeastern part of the state, and just north of Ohio, wore the mask during a Senate vote Friday at the state capitol. The mask was red with blue stripes and white stars, according to the Detroit Free Press.

On Saturday, Zorn tweeted an apology for his "choice of pattern" on the mask made by his his wife.

"I'm sorry for my choice of pattern on the face mask I wore yesterday on the Senate floor. I did not intend to offend anyone; however, I realize that I did, and for that I am sorry. Those who know me best know that I do not support the things this pattern represents," Zorn wrote.

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I’m sorry for my choice of pattern on the face mask I wore yesterday on the Senate floor. I did not intend to offend anyone; however, I realize that I did, and for that I am sorry. Those who know me best know that I do not support the things this pattern represents.

— Dale W. Zorn (@DaleZornSenate) April 25, 2020

"My actions were an error in judgment for which there are no excuses and I will learn from this episode," Zorn added.

Zorn said his wife made the face covering to resemble the state flags of Kentucky or Tennessee. On Friday, he told WLNS that he mentioned to his wife that the mask could "raise some eyebrows."

"It was not a Confederate flag. I think even if it was a Confederate flag, you know, we should be talking about teaching our national history in schools. And that's part of our national history, and it's something we can't just throw away because it is part of our history," Zorn said. "And if we want to make sure that the atrocities that happened during that time doesn't happen again, we should be teaching it. Our kids should know what that flag stands for."

Jim Ananich, the ranking Democrat senator from Flint, retweeted the WLNS story, saying he was "really disappointed" in Zorn.

"Frankly, I'm at a loss for words other than to say I'm just really disappointed to see him make a choice that is deeply hurtful to so many people. When he was called out for it, he didn't seem to even understand or acknowledge what the problem was," wrote Ananich, the state's Senate Minority Leader.

Frankly, I’m at a loss for words other than to say I’m just really disappointed to see him make a choice that is deeply hurtful to so many people. When he was called out for it, he didn’t seem to even understand or acknowledge what the problem was. https://t.co/doyD73YAlf

— Senator Jim Ananich (@jimananich) April 25, 2020

The office of Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey said he "would not support or encourage any senator to display an insensitive symbol on the Senate floor."

"Senator Zorn removed the item when the concern was raised and has made clear that was not his intent and apologized," said Amber McCann, who is Shirkey's spokeswoman.

Protective face coverings and masks have become a necessity with the spread of COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus. There have been nearly 3 million people infected worldwide, and on Saturday, the death toll passed the 200,000 thousand mark.

Michigan State Capitol Building
The Michigan State Capitol before the state electoral college met to cast their votes on December 19, 2016 in Lansing, Michigan, United States. Photo by Sarah Rice/Getty Images