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A high school teacher in Alaska has been put on administrative leave after a video showed her telling a class that George Floyd would still be alive if he had complied with police orders.
In a 15-minute YouTube video posted Apr. 29, a Lathrop High School teacher in Fairbanks is seen having a conversation with her class about black people being killed by police, including the death of Floyd, KUAC reported.
“I’m an old white lady and if the cops came up to me and said ma’am, put your hands behind your back, you’re going to jail…I’m putting my hands behind my back,” she said.
The teacher has been placed on paid administrative leave for “racially insensitive comments” and the incident is being investigated by the district, Principal Carly Sween said Friday, according to the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.
Sween said she and Assistant Principal Clarice Mingo met with the students to talk about the incident and “provide opportunities for them to reflect on the situation,” the newspaper reported.
The teacher has not been publicly named by the school but is referred to in the video as “Ms. Gardner.”
In the video, the teacher also spoke about avoiding problems with the police by dressing a certain way.
“Look at how you guys are dressed. You’re dressed nicely,” she said. “You don’t look like thugs. You don’t have your pants down around your knees.”
Later on in the video, a parent interrupted the class and said she disagreed “with the conversation in whole.”
“I feel like this is something that, you know like Ms. Gardner, I don’t feel like you’re really able to address with you being a white woman. You know I am a woman of color,” the parent said.
“That’s where you’re wrong,” the teacher responded.
“I am a woman of color who has lived in the south, who was born and raised in the South, who has experienced racism firsthand,” the parent said.
Derek Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer who is white, was found guilty last month of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the death of Floyd.
Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, died while in police custody on May 25, and his death sparked an avalanche of protests across the nation. He died after Chauvin pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes, as three other officers didn’t intervene.
A 17-year-old bystander took video of the incident, in which Floyd can be heard saying, “Please, please, please, I can’t breathe.”
Floyd was arrested after being accused by a store employee of using a counterfeit $20 bill to buy a pack of cigarettes at a Minneapolis grocery store.
Following Chauvin’s conviction, other teachers have been suspended or put on leave due to their comments on Floyd and policing.
Howard Zlotkin, a science teacher at William Dickinson High School in New Jersey, was suspended after calling Floyd a “criminal” and having Black students write a paper on “why Black lives matter,” CNN reported.
“The bottom line is, we make (Floyd) a f**king hero? He’s not a hero; he’s like a criminal,” Zlotkin said in the clip recorded by one of his students.
A Cypress College professor in California was also put on leave after challenging a student who called police “heroes,” KTLA5 reported.
In the video posted on YouTube, Braden Ellis said during a presentation: “I think cops are heroes and they have to have a difficult job. But we have to have …”
“All of them?” the teacher responded.
“I’d say a good majority of them,” Ellis said, adding that there are “bad people in every business.”
“A lot of police officers have committed an atrocious crime and have gotten away with it and have never been convicted of any of it,” she said.