September 15, 2020
NY teacher shares cartoon with students comparing police officers to KKK. It was part of a Black Lives Matter-themed assignment.
Inappropriate to say the least
A teacher in Thornwood, New York, is facing backlash after distributing a political cartoon to 11th-grade students. The cartoon compared police officers to members of the KKK.
The cartoon was part of a Black Lives Matter-themed assignment.
According to the New York Post, Westlake High School teacher Christopher Moreno shared the cartoon with students during his U.S. History and Government class on Sept. 8.
The cartoon, an attachment to a larger assignment promoting the Black Lives Matter movement, disturbed student Nicole Paternostro, who told the outlet that the cartoon was "disgusting."
"It compared the police with all the terrible people in history," she said. "It was not fair. It wasn't right."
According to the Post, "The first three frames [of the cartoon] show slave owners and a member of the KKK with their knees on the backs of black men in shackles. The KKK member also has a noose around the black man's neck."
"The last two panels depict a sheriff and a police officer each with their knees on the neck of a black man in handcuffs," the outlet continued. "The black man is saying 'I can't breath' [sic] — what black Minneapolis victim George Floyd gasped as his neck was knelt on by white cop Derek Chauvin, sparking ongoing BLM protests across the city."
Her mother, Ania, hit out at the district for "brainwashing" children in the district with a pro-Black Lives Matter agenda.
"My daughter showed me the paper. I said, 'What is this?! You've got to be kidding me!" she said. "This cartoon compares the police to the KKK. It's an attack on police."
"We don't need a teacher brainwashing my kids," she said. "I'll teach my kids about what's right and what's wrong."
She added, "We have to respect the men in blue who protect us."
Mount Pleasant Police Chief Paul Oliva hit out at the cartoon in remarks to WCBS-TV.
"My concerns are that a cartoon like this can foster violence towards the police, as what happened this past weekend in California," he said, referring to the ambush-style shooting of two Los Angeles County deputies.
In a statement, Mount Pleasant School District Superintendent Kurt Kotes said he would be looking into the incident.
The Daily Mail reported that Kotes sent a letter to parents, which said, in part:
I want to address an issue that I have recently been advised is of deep concern to many members of our community. Specifically, I have been advised that one of our High School teachers may have recently conducted a lesson that many have deemed to be highly controversial in the current climate. I want to assure the community that the District will be conducting a thorough investigation to determine what exactly occurred in this particular classroom and what, if any, action is to be taken under the circumstances to appropriately address the matter. Once the investigation has been completed we will follow up with the community to the extent necessary and legally appropriate.
In August, a Texas school teacher came under fire for using the same cartoon in a lesson plan.
School officials with the Wylie Independent School District, north of the Dallas area, said in a statement that the assignment was not authorized.
The assignment was provided to a junior high-aged class in a Bill of Rights-related assignment.