A high school teacher in Fairbanks, Alaska, has reportedly been placed on administrative leave after suggesting to students that George Floyd would still be alive today had he complied with Minneapolis police.
In a video posted to YouTube last week, a teacher identified as "Ms. Gardner" is seen and heard conducting a virtual discussion with students about several high-profile shootings that have occurred in America of late, including police-involved incidents with black Americans.
When the topic of conversation shifted to Floyd, the teacher remarked that former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin "abused his authority" and "was complicit in George Floyd's death."
"But," she added, "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."
Chauvin was recently convicted of murder and manslaughter for his role in Floyd's death last May. Chauvin knelt on Floyd's neck for over nine minutes during an arrest while Floyd repeatedly complained that he couldn't breathe.
Fairbanks Teacher - racist comments and interactions with students, staff, and family member www.youtube.com
"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," the teacher went on to say. "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."
Elsewhere in the discussion, the teacher remarks on what type of clothing to wear to avoid being perceived by police officers as "thugs."
"Look at how you guys are dressed. You guys are dressed nicely," she notes. "You don't look like thugs, you don't have your pants down around your knees."
According to the Daily Mail, after the video surfaced, the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District sent a letter to parents that the teacher had been placed on leave pending an investigation. Though officials reportedly did not disclose the teacher's name, the outlet reported that "only one staffer with the same name: High school special education teacher Connie Gardner."
It is unclear what initially prompted the discussion.
But at one point during the discussion, a woman identified as "Liz" claiming to be a tutor for some of the students speaks up to say she is "uncomfortable" with the conversation.
"Police should be trained to not kill people even if they don't comply," she said, adding they "should be trained not to judge people" based on their skin color or how they dress.
After that, the individual who is filming the video, who identified herself as a parent of one of the students and a "woman of color," said that she doesn't feel the teacher is able to speak on the topic because she is white.
"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," she said.