There is a controversy in the Denver Public School system as students were shown a video telling them not to call police if they see a violently racist or homophobic incident because police are perpetrators of such violence. What is particularly shocking, however, was the response of the school district to the showing of this insulting and dangerous film. The district said that nobody at Denver South High School actually watched the video before showing it to the students under their charge.
The video titled “Don’t be a Bystander: 6 Tips for Responding to Racist Attacks,” tells students what to do if they see a racial attack. It states that “in our current political moment, White supremacists and White nationalists have been emboldened, and as a result, public attacks are on the rise.” It then gives tips on what to do including do “not call the police” because it “escalates, rather than reduces” violence. It explains “[b]ecause police have been trained to see people of color, gender-nonconforming folks, and Muslims as criminals, they often treat victims as perpetrators of violence. So, if the victim hasn’t asked you to call the police, do not — I repeat, do not — call the police.”
It is a dangerous message for children not only in getting them to view police as threats but not to report racial incidents to the police to allow rapid intervention.
What really stood out, however, was this line in the coverage: “A district spokesperson told Fox News Digital the video was chosen because of its title and theme, but no one viewed the video before it was shown to students.”
This makes “the dog ate my homework” look perfectly credible. I am not sure which is worse: watching and assigning the video or assigning a video without watching it. Notably, to download the video from YouTube, the school official would have seen this description directly under the video:
Created by BCRW and members of Project NIA, this video offers an abolitionist approach to bystander intervention that does not rely on the police.
We have all been burned by videos in social media where you think you are sending a funny or relevant video but fail to watch the whole thing to spot foul or offensive content. However, posting a video for school children to see is a bit different from an errant tweet.
It hardly conveys the seriousness of this anti-racism program that the teachers do not even watch the videos being assigned or posted.
The school district offered little beyond a shrug and did not indicate any degree of discipline for the posting of this offensive video.
There is also little response from the Barnard Center for Research on Women which posted the video to YouTube in 2017. It has posted this video for years. The group’s website displays a series of posts on abolition and “Defund the Police” measures.