A high school teacher in Fairbanks, Alaska has been placed on administrative leave for telling students that George Floyd would still be alive today if he had complied with police.
In 15-minute YouTube video posted last week, a teacher referred to as “Ms. Gardner” hosted a virtual lecture with students about several recent high-profile shootings involving altercations between law enforcement and African-Americans.
On the subject of George Floyd, the teacher said that former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin “abused his authority” and “was complicit in George Floyd’s death.”
“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,” the woman added.
Chauvin was convicted of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the death of Floyd in a criminal trial last month.
“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,” Gardner 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 that if she were ever arrested, “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. 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.’”
During the discussion, the teacher recommended students wear clothing that doesn’t attract attention from police officers and avoid perception that they could be “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.”
The parent filming, who identified herself a “woman of color,” is heard interjecting during the video to say that she doesn’t believe the teacher is qualified to speak on the topic because she doesn’t share the black experience.
“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 remarked.
Lathrop High principal Carly Sween called the teacher’s comments “racially insensitive.” Once the video was released, the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District notified parents that the teacher had been placed on administrative leave pending further review, according to the Daily Mail.
District officials reportedly did not disclose the teacher’s name. The high school website shows Connie Gardner, a special education teacher, among faculty.