Teacher in Alaska was put on administrative leave after telling her class if George Floyd had just obeyed police, he would be alive today. She was using this and other examples to stress to her students to follow police orders to protect themselves.
A high-school teacher in Fairbanks, Alaska, has been placed on administrative leave over remarks she made during a class discussion on police killings, KUAC reported.
A video of the discussion – which happened during a virtual class meeting – was posted to YouTube last week.
While school officials have not named the teacher, she is addressed as “Ms. Gardner” in the video, and a Connie Gardner is listed as a special-education teacher on the Lathrop High School website.
She is heard lecturing students about recent police killings, including those of Daunte Wright and Ma’Khia Bryant, arguing that the media disproportionately focuses on incidents involving white officers killing Black suspects and defending officers for having to make split-second decisions in charged situations.
At one point in the video she turns to the death of George Floyd, a Black man who died in Minneapolis last year after a white police officer knelt on his neck for several minutes. Last month a jury found the officer, Derek Chauvin, who was fired over the incident, guilty of Floyd’s murder.
While the teacher said she did “not agree” with Chauvin’s actions, she said Floyd failed to “comply” with officers’ orders to get in the back of a squad car and it resulted in his death.
“I do not agree that the Chauvin guy was right – I think he abused his authority, and I think he went too far. And I think that he was complicit in George Floyd’s death. I think that there were many factors that contributed to it, and that was one of them,” the teacher is heard saying.
“But if George Floyd had … just sidled into the car, slid in there, and let them put his legs in, he would be alive today and you know that’s true,” she added.
“So that’s my message to you … If any of you find yourself in a situation where you are – justly or unjustly – being addressed by the police and ordered to do something, please comply. Do not fight the cops. Don’t try to run away.”
The teacher went on to imply that her students were less likely to draw attention from the police because of the way they dressed.
“Here’s the thing too,” she said. “Look at how you guys are dressed. You guys are dressed nicely – you don’t look like thugs. You don’t have your pants down around your knees.”
Teacher was called out on video
It was then that a woman – who identified herself as a tutor – pushed back on the teacher’s comments, saying the way someone dressed shouldn’t factor into whether they were targeted by the police.
She’s right. The way you dress shouldn’t be a factor but it is. Gangbangers dress a certain way and that’s what cops key in on. Wearing the wrong clothing in inner cities can get you killed.
The woman who recorded the video also spoke up soon after that, identifying herself as a mother who overheard the discussion while her kids were attending the class remotely.
The mother said she was a woman of color who had experienced racism and said the teacher, as a white woman, was “uneducated” and unable “to address these things that are going on in the world today.”
The video ends with the mother telling the teacher to “stop this conversation.”