School officials in Wylie, Texas, apologized Thursday for a cartoon students received as part of an assignment that compared police to the KKK and slave owners.
“This is abhorrent and disgusting, and only further widens the gap between police officers and the youth in our community,” Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) National Vice President Joe Gamaldi wrote in a tweet:
8th grade teachers in a school outside of Dallas, TX (@WylieISD) gave students a home work assignment comparing police officers to slave owners and the KKK.
This is abhorrent and disgusting, and only further widens the gap between police officers and the youth in our community. pic.twitter.com/ELfbjWQu9Z
— Joe Gamaldi (@JoeGamaldi) August 20, 2020
Wylie Independent School District (ISD) officials said a social studies teacher at Cooper Junior High included the cartoon in a lesson for about 400 students, according to Fox 4 News.
The lesson was reportedly intended to be about the Bill of Rights and the right to protest.
However, students were allegedly “instructed to recreate political cartoons depicting current events, including the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis,” according to NBC 5.
“One cartoon by David Fitzsimmons goes on to replace the officer and Floyd with other Black men, dying at the hands of people including a slave trader, a member of the KKK and another law enforcement officer,” the outlet said.
In response to the backlash, the district shared a photo of Wylie police officers Thursday on Twitter and apologized for “any hurt that may have been caused by a lesson that included political cartoons that reflected negatively on LEOs,”:
We are sorry for any hurt that may have been caused by a lesson that included political cartoons that reflected negatively on LEOs. We value them and will do better. Thanks @GLFOP @TMPALegislative @WyliePD @SachsePD @murphytex for helping us move forward. pic.twitter.com/8wRZq9x5WQ
— Wylie ISD (@WylieISD) August 20, 2020
Wylie ISD said the lesson’s political cartoons were not part of its curriculum resources or documents, adding that the assignment had since been canceled.
“The district did not provide an explanation from the teacher on why the cartoon was included in the lesson. The district says it is ensuring that future class content follows the state curriculum,” the Fox report stated.
Wylie Police Chief Anthony Henderson said his department worked hard to cultivate positive relationships with the community and the assignment undermined that work, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
“The last thing we want is for our young people to be scared to talk to us or confide in us,” he explained.
Gamaldi said although he received an apology from the district, he was concerned the negative depiction of police officers would be forever in the student’s minds.
“We’re not all like that idiot who put his knee on George Floyd’s neck. When I see imagery like that, it’s completely disgusting to me because that’s not who we are. We’re not the KKK. We’re not slave owners,” he concluded.