A public school district in New York state is facing criticism after it promoted a children’s book that falsely claims that police target black people instead of White people, and that black people are more likely to be shot, as reported by Fox News.
In the city of Binghamton, the Police Benevolent Association (PBA) denounced the city’s school district for their promotion of the book “Something Happened In Our Town.” The book, which was selected by the school as the “Book of the Month” for April for MacArthur Elementary School, was read aloud to students.
In the book, several characters react to a recent police shooting, with one black boy saying that the police officer responsible for the shooting won’t face any charges because “cops stick up for each other,” while also falsely claiming that police “don’t like black men.” The black boy’s father adds that “we can’t always count on [police] to do what’s right.”
Another black character, named Malcolm, falsely claims that police could pull him over simply because he is black, even if he is not doing anything wrong. When another character asks “what if it was a White man in the car,” and whether or not the police would have shot a White man, the black father says that “they probably wouldn’t have even stopped the car.”
In addition to the anti-police narrative and false claims about police encounters by race, the book also features a side story with an immigrant character trying to join the school’s soccer team. When one character, described as a “bully,” tries to tell the main characters that their team is full and doesn’t need anymore players, they defy him and demand that the immigrant be included anyway. The book claims that this is a form of prejudice, and that the immigrant was being discriminated against simply because he could not speak English very well.
The Binghamton PBA released a statement condemning the book, declaring it to have “a blatant anti-police message.” They went on to say that “while we recognize that it is not incumbent on us to determine what should be taught in schools, we feel that the language in this book works to undermine public safety, and will leave children with the impression that they cannot trust the police.”
In response, the Binghamton School District issued an apology to police, saying that “we support and respect the brave police officers that protect our community,” and that “in no way does this book represent our thinking or beliefs about our police…We apologize for the negative light this has shined on their profession and commitment to our safety.”