September 9, 2020 | From Bryan Brammer
A Texas school district has removed an 8th grade assignment that compared police officers to KKK members and slave owners amid backlash from parents and law enforcement groups.
The social studies assignment, given to students at Cooper Junior High in Wylie, Texas, used a political cartoon to depict five similar scenes: African-American men face down on the ground with their hands restrained behind their backs and a white man’s knee on their neck. Throughout the scenes, the black man says he cannot breathe.
Among the five different white men, one was dressed in a white KKK robe while another resembled Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.
After the assignment was posted online by an unidentified eighth-grade teacher, parents immediately filed their complaints with the Wylie Independent School District.
Vice President of the National Fraternal Order of Police Joe Gamaldi sent a letter to Wylie ISD Superintendent David Vinson in August denouncing the assignment.
“I cannot begin to tell you how abhorrent and disturbing this comparison is, but what is more disturbing is that no adult within your school thought better before sending this assignment to children,” Gamaldi wrote.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott also condemned the district’s assignment and said the teacher responsible “should be fired.”
Shortly following the public outcry, Wylie ISD issued a statement claiming that the cartoons “are not part of the district’s curriculum resources or documents.”
“We are sorry for any hurt that may have been caused through this lesson. The assignment has been removed, and students will not be expected to complete it,” the statement read.
David Fitzsimmons, the Arizona Daily Star cartoonist who created the image, defending his work.
“I’m impressed the National Fraternal Order of Police is directing its fury at an illustration revealing how our present horrors are mere echoes of our cruel past… Perhaps it requires too much moral courage, or honest clear-eyed reflection, for the National Fraternal Order of Police to funnel their fury at the few racist police officers who disgrace their oath and their badges by disproportionately murdering African-Americans,” Fitzsimmons said.
(Article by Bryan Brammer. Photo Credit: Getty Images.)