Oblivious Teachers Wear NYPD Shirts In Response To A Police Brutality Rally
Following the deaths this summer of unarmed black men at the hands of white officers in New York City, Al Sharpton held a rally calling for the end of police brutality. In response, some New York City public school teachers decided to wear t-shirts supporting the NYPD during the first week of school. White teachers supporting white cops who have killed black men by wearing shirts supporting those cops in classrooms that undoubtedly have more than a few black children? Good call, folks. Who says white people don’t understand white privilege? Everybody. Everybody says that.
At the end of August, 43-year-old Eric Garner was arrested by the NYPD for selling untaxed cigarettes. In a move that was in no way an over-reaction to an angry black man without a weapon, police placed him in a choke hold and pinned him to the ground.Â Despite the fact that Garner, who had acute asthma, stated at least 11 times that he could not breathe, the police officer holding him down refused to release him. Garner died of a heart attack minutes later. The medical examiner has ruled Garner’s death a homicide, with the cause of death being compression of the neck and chest.
It was this show of police brutalityÂ that Al Sharpton was protesting. One of the people who supported Sharpton was the president of the United Federation of Teachers, Michael Mulgrew. And it was his support of Sharpton that led some public school teachers to arrange their own protest by making t-shirts supporting the NYPD and agreeing to wear them when school started.
It didn’t take long for the union to catch wind of this plan, and on Wednesday night, they emailed members of the United Federation of Teachers to tell them to cut that shit out. They advised teachers that wearing shirts that supported either side would result in punishment from the Department of Education. Apparently, the union and the Department of Education believe that public school teachers should be objective and not support people who murder their students.
Well, not Pat Lynch, the president of the Patrolman’s Benevolent Association, who argued inÂ DNA Info:
…What could be inappropriate about showing support for the police department that protects teachers and students alike? I also find it odd that a union would use management-like scare tactics in order to suppress the free expression of their members’ ideas.
Let me explain this to you, Lynch. First of all, I think you’re going to run into some disagreement about your statement that the police department is there to protect “teachers and students alike.” There are a lot of people out there who don’t feel protected by the police so much as targeted by them.
Second, you want to talk about scare-tactics and the suppression of free expression? How do you think a black kid in one of those teacher’s classroomsÂ felt when he or she saw their teacher wearing one of those shirts? Do you think they felt supported? Like they had no reason to be afraid? Like they would be able to freely express themselves in front of that teacher?
Police officers have an impossibly hard job and most of them deserve our respect. But it is callous and ignorant to respond to the obvious racism in the police department with a shirt that says, “Thank you.”