ADRIAN — Members of the Lenawee County NAACP called for state Sen. Dale Zorn to resign or to be censured by the Michigan Senate after an incident late last month when Zorn wore a mask resembling a Confederate battle flag on the Senate floor.

The organization did not mince words about the Ida Republican's actions in a letter sent to Zorn May 2. The letter was compiled by the members and executive committee of the Lenawee NAACP and signed by the group’s president, Jeanette Henagan.

The letter questioned Zorn’s intent on wearing the face mask.

“We had no idea that you apparently harbor either a desire to support the idea of the defunct Confederacy, and everything it meant to oppress people of color, or whether you are so insensitive that you would appear as our legislative representative, in an official capacity no less, wearing the epitome of a symbol that is a disgraceful reminder of the utmost discrimination and brutal practices against people of color. We find it inexcusable and heart-wrenching,” the letter stated.

The letter became available publicly Thursday when it was posted on the Lenawee NAACP's Facebook page.

Zorn was pictured on April 24 the Senate floor wearing a mask, which he said was made by his wife, that featured a pattern resembling a battle flag of the Confederacy.

The Senate was in session to vote on bills to limit Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s emergency powers and to create an oversight committee regarding the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

In a TV interview with WLNS in Lansing, Zorn denied that the pattern was of the Confederate flag, but that he told his wife that it “would probably raise some eyebrows.”

“I’m sorry for my choice of pattern on the face mask I wore on the Senate floor,” Zorn said in a statement sent out the following day. “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. My actions were an error in judgment for which there are no excuses and I will learn from this episode.”

The NAACP’s letter called the flag a “despicable symbol” of the South’s attempt to overthrow the U.S. government during the Civil War and advocate for slavery and white supremacy — ideals for which it continues to be used by hate groups.

“Do you have any idea how many people were brutalized, maimed, tortured, and murdered in the shadow of the Confederate flag?” the letter stated. “Do you appreciate how many people use it as a device to exert their superiority over others and to harbor deep-seeded beliefs to justify their discrimination over people of color?”

The letter writers called the action “unbelievable” and “inexcusable.”

“In our humble opinion we believe that the Senate should censure you for your conduct. Furthermore, we believe you should do the honorable thing and resign your public office,” the letter stated. “How can anyone help but to question your motives on any future positions you hold on a bill, or any matter before our government?”

Henagan, in an interview Friday, said the incident was very upsetting to her and the members of the Lenawee NAACP, as well as throughout the country, as the incident garnered national news coverage.

Henagan, both in person and in the letter, recalled the previously responsive relationship between Zorn and the group. Zorn has previously attended the organization’s annual Freedom Fund Dinners, advertised in the event’s souvenir book and last year spoke at one of the group’s monthly meetings to answer questions about ongoing legislation.

“We just were very dismayed and upset,” Henagan said of the group’s feelings when they heard about the incident. “We deserve better. When I say we, I mean the people of Michigan deserve better.”

So far, there has not been a response to the letter from Zorn, but chief of staff Joe Martin said that Zorn planned to reach out to Henagan Saturday to have a conversation about the letter and mask.