SHERIDAN — Rep. Cyrus Western, R-Big Horn, said he spoke with the newly appointed Albany County Sheriff Wednesday morning to apologize for a comment the Sheridan County legislator posted on Twitter that has been widely regarded as offensive.
A news article regarding the new sheriff, Aaron Appelhans — the first African American known to hold the position in Wyoming — had been shared on the social media platform. Western responded with an image from the movie “Blazing Saddles” depicting the African American sheriff in the movie and a white character with the words “Hey, where are the white women at?” over the image.
The tweet has drawn criticism, with some calling it racist. The tweet was later deleted, but screenshots of the comment with the time stamp of 6:23 p.m. Dec. 14, have been shared and reposted.
Rep. Cyrus Western, R-Big Horn, has been criticized for a tweet he posted Dec. 14, 2020.
“I’d like to issue a retraction. My remark about the new Albany Sheriff was dumb and uncalled for,” Western posted on Twitter Wednesday morning. “I have personally called the sheriff to own up to it. I didn’t get through, but left a VM on his work phone.
“What I did was insensitive, and, while unintended, I recognize that it was wrong. I hope he accepts my apology,” he also tweeted.
Western told The Sheridan Press he later had a lengthy conversation with Appelhans and apologized.
“I didn’t think it through at all,” Western told The Sheridan Press. “There was no malice or ill will.”
“Blazing Saddles,” released in 1974, is a satirical film that tells the story of the first African American sheriff in a small western town. Critics have called the comedy “groundbreaking” for poking fun at racism and the stereotypical depictions of people of color.
“At the end of the day what I know how to do when I make a mistake is apologize and hold myself accountable,” Western said. “I set a standard of conduct and I broke my own standards and rules. I need to acknowledge that and focus on getting back on track and try to live up to those standards.”
He added that Appelhans’ appointment should be celebrated and reiterated that no malice was meant with the tweet.
Attempts to reach Appelhans were not immediately successful.