FAIRBANKS, Alaska (WTVO) — A high school teacher has been put on leave after a class discussion in which she said George Floyd would still be alive if he had complied with police orders.
The teacher with the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District, identified only as Ms. Gardner, made the remarks during an online conversation with her students about police interactions with Black people.
According to KUAC, she did not defend the actions of former Officer Derek Chauvin, but said Floyd would still still be alive if he had followed the officers orders.
“I do not agree that the Chauvin guy was right — I think he abused his authority, and I think he went too far. And I think that he was complicit in George Floyd’s death. I think that there were many factors that contributed to it, and that was one of them,” she said.
“But if George Floyd had…just sidled into the car, slid in there, and let them put his legs in, he would be alive today and you know that’s true,” she added.
Chauvin was convicted of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter on April 20th.
In a video recording, Gardner argued that the media disproportionately focuses on incidents of white officers killing Black suspects, and defended officers making split-second decisions.
“I’m an old white lady and if the cops came up to me and said mam, put your hands behind your back, you’re going to jail…I’m putting my hands behind my back,” she can be heard saying.
She also commented that how students dress could cause trouble with the police.
“Here’s the thing too,” she said. “Look at how you guys are dressed. You guys are dressed nicely, you don’t look like thugs. You don’t have your pants down around your knees.”
During the conversation, one of the student’s parents, challenged the teacher’s comments, saying, “I just disagree with the conversation in whole…I don’t feel like you’re really able to address with you being a white woman.”
The parent then told the teacher that she was “uneducated” and unable “to address these things that are going on in the world today.”
The school’s principal wrote a letter to parents saying the teacher’s comments were “racially insensitive” and that an investigation into the matter was ongoing.
A columnist for the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman defended the teacher’s comments, saying that she was preparing her students for the real world.
“The world is a dangerous place,” wrote Tom Brennan. “And it can be made more or less dangerous by the things we say and do. And even by the way we dress. Explaining that to children in a way they can understand is difficult and does run the risk that a parent in the room will be offended and go ballistic.
“But that doesn’t mean teachers shouldn’t attempt to educate their students about the world around them and the risks that they face. It is very important that they understand those things as best they can.”