A South Carolina high school included two fiction books about police violence against minorities on a summer reading list, drawing the ire of the local police union, The Guardian reported.
Wando High School in Mount Pleasant tasked its ninth-grade students with reading one of eight books on a summer reading list, two of which have plots focused on police brutality.
The Fraternal Order of Police Tri-County Lodge #3 told the local news last month that the books caused "an influx of tremendous outrage at the selections by this reading list."
"Freshmen, they're at the age where their interactions with law enforcement have been very minimal," lodge President John Blackmon told WCBD-TV. "They're not driving yet, they haven't been stopped for speeding, they don't have these type of interactions. This is putting in their minds, it's almost an indoctrination of distrust of police and we've got to put a stop to that."
What are the books about?
"The Hate U Give" tells the story of a 16-year-old girl named Starr who lives in a poor neighborhood but attends a suburban prep school.
Starr witnessed a police officer fatally shooting her childhood best friend, Khalil. The story follows her as she deals with the tragedy and also the media frenzy around the killing, which threatens both her community and personal safety.
"All American Boys" is about a 16-year-old teenager named Rashad who is beaten by a police officer in a bodega after being mistaken for a shoplifter. The beating is recorded on video and distributed widely throughout the media, causing tensions in the community and between Rashad, who is black, and his white classmate, Quinn, who witnessed the incident.
Both books are inspired by real-life conflicts between minorities and police officers over the years, which sometimes involve teenagers or children. Still, Blackmon believes the list should focus less on police brutality and more on other socioeconomic issues.
What will happen now?
The school has a policy in place to review books that receive complaints from parents or others. A committee will review the books and the superintendent will make a final decision about their inclusion.
Students are required to read only one of the eight books on the list, which means many students may avoid either of the disputed titles altogether.