A Fairbanks, Alaska high school teacher was forced to take leave last week after saying that George Floyd, who died while in Minneapolis Police Department custody in May 2020, would likely still be alive if he had complied with law enforcement.
Video shared to YouTube on April 29 shows the teacher facilitating a virtual classroom discussion on a number of high-profile shootings in America, notably those that involved police and black Americans.
When George Floyd was mentioned in the discussion, the teacher said that while former cop Derek Chauvin “abused his authority” during Floyd’s arrest and “was complicit in [his] death,” she asserted that Floyd would be alive if he followed the police officer’s orders.
“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,” she says in the video.
“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.”
Last month, Chauvin was found guilty of all three charges against him relating to the death of Floyd, including unintentional second-degree murder, third degree murder and second degree manslaughter.
Later in the video, the teacher also comments on clothing, advising her students to avoid wearing clothes that could be perceived by law enforcement as things “thugs” wear.
“Look at how you guys are dressed. You guys are dressed nicely,” she says. “You don’t look like thugs, you don’t have your pants down around your knees.”
Local KUAC television station reported that the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District sent a letter to parents notifying them that the teacher has been placed on administrative leave while an investigation into the incident is conducted.
The individual who recorded the discussion, who identifies herself as a “woman of color” in the video, says she doesn’t think the teacher should speak on the issue 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,” the woman says to the teacher. ‘You should stop this conversation – period.”