Despite warnings emailed to the United Federation of Teachers on Wednesday, several groups of teachers have decided to wear their pro-NYPD t-shirts on the first week of class anyway.
The Department of Education asked the UFT to remind them “that as public employees, one must remain objective at all times” and that “certain tee shirt messages may appear to be supportive, but individuals (parents, students) may see a different meaning in that message.”
According to DNAinfo, “the decision to wear the shirts came in protest of UFT head Michael Mulgrew’s public support of Rev. Al Sharpton’s march on Aug. 23 to call for justice for the death of Garner, 43.” Eric Garner died after being placed into an illegal chokehold by police officers during an arrest for selling loosie cigarettes in Staten Island, sparking a nation-wide debate on aggressive use of force and racially skewed enforcement trends by the police. A Staten Island teaching assistant proudly told the Post that educators were disobeying direct orders from the principle.
Though the Post is celebrating the teachers “who refused to be bullied by their union,” a look at the Thank You NYPD Facebook page gives some idea to what the message is intended to be. Overall, the moderators’ pro-NYPD posts are fairly standard, with a few random standouts like a video from the Tea Party News Network blog of a Houston cop judo-kicking someone resisting arrest and some explicit dislike of El Sharpton. Mostly, the page is filled with photographs of predominantly white teachers wearing pro-NYPD t-shirts with messages like “New York’s Brightest Supports New York’s Finest” and “THIS TEACHER SUPPORTS OUR COPS!!” [grammar sic.]
Notably, teachers from IS 72 on Staten Island (with a black student population of 16%) and PS 220 in Queens (9%) proudly posted photos of wearing the t-shirts. Elementary school teachers at P.S. 44 in Staten Island (43.9%) decided against the action, perhaps delaying some parents’ very difficult conversations about the NYPD with their kids, at least on their first week of school.
(Images: Thank You NYPD Facebook page)