Alaska teacher on leave after ‘racially insensitive’ comments on George Floyd

A Fairbanks, Alaska high school teacher was put on administrative leave after making comments to students about George Floyd, including an observation that he would be alive had he only complied with Minneapolis police officers.

The teacher, whose name was not disclosed by officials, made her comments as part of a virtual lecture with students to discuss a number of recent media-hyped shootings between police officers and black suspects.

As noted in the 15-minute video posted to YouTube last week, the teacher prefaced her comments by saying she believes Derek Chauvin, the officer, who was convicted last month of murder and manslaughter charges in connection with Floyd’s death, was wrong for pinning the black man to the pavement for nearly nine minutes, an action that jurors believe led to Floyd’s death.

Chauvin “abused his authority” and, as such, “was complicit in George Floyd’s death,” the teacher said.

(Video: Newsmax TV)

Jurors in April convicted Chauvin of second- and third-degree murder as well as second-degree manslaughter. Three other officers involved in the incident were fired — Tou Thao, Thomas Lane, and J. Kueng — and have been charged with violating Floyd’s right to be free from unreasonable seizure and for using excessive force, as well as failing to provide him timely care after it became apparent Floyd was suffering a medical emergency.

The Alaska high school teacher proffered that Floyd’s outcome would have been much different, and better for him, if he would have cooperated.

“But if George Floyd had, at the beginning when they got him out of the car and went to put him in the police car if he had just sidled into the car and slid it in there, and let them put his legs in, he would be alive today, and you know that’s true,” she told students.

“If the cops come and they say, ‘I’m taking you to jail,’ then you put your hands behind your back, you let them off you, you get in the cop car and you go and call your parents when they give you your phone call,” she continued.

“That’s what you do to stay alive. Everybody, white, black, brown. I don’t care what color you are. None of that makes a difference. You comply, you do what they say,” the teacher added.

SHe informed students that in the event she was ever arrested, she would be very cooperative.

“I’m putting my hands behind my back and I’m going to jail and I’m calling my husband when I get there, and he’s going to call our attorney,” she said.

“And I’m gonna tell the cops, I’m gonna say, ‘Yes sir,’ and ‘Sir, when you search me, you’re going to find a gun strapped to my ankle, and I’m just letting you know about it now, so that you don’t, you know, so that you can get it and be safe.’”

At one point, the teacher advised students to wear appropriate clothing as well so that officers won’t get any impression they are “thugs.”

“Look at how you guys are dressed. You guys are dressed nicely,” she said. “You don’t look like thugs, you don’t have your pants down around your knees.”

Her comments drew criticism from a self-professed “woman of color” who was recording the video, saying she did not think the teacher should speak about the issue because she has no experience being black.

“Some of the things that you are saying, I feel like you are very uneducated on and I don’t feel like you are able to address these things that are going on today,” the parent said.

School officials agreed, with Lathrop High Principal Carly Sween, who deemed Gardner’s comments “racially insensitive.”

Shortly after the video was posted online, according to the Daily Mail, officials with the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District informed parents that the teacher was placed on administrative leave pending a review of the class.

Jon Dougherty

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