Teacher Suspended for Saying George Floyd 'Would Still Be Alive' if He Complied
High school special education teacher Connie Gardner made claims on Zoom class
A school teacher has been suspended for saying during a Zoom class that George Floyd "would still be alive" if he had complied with the police during his arrest.
In a 15-minute video, posted on YouTube by a parent, the teacher at Lathrop High School in Fairbanks, Alaska, also said that people should expect to be targeted by cops if dress like "thugs."
The teacher, who is referred to as "Ms. Gardner" can be seen talking to her students about police killing black people, and telling them that if they complied with police, they would be less likely to get shot.
"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 in there and let them put his legs in, he would be alive today," Gardener said.
"You know that's true," she adds.
Last week, the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District sent out a letter to notify parents that the teacher in the video had been placed on leave pending an investigation.
Officials from the school district have declined to name the teacher.
According to The Daily Mail, however, the district's website shows only one staffer with the same name: High school special education teacher Connie Gardner.
George Floyd died in May 2020 after Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin appeared to kneel on his neck for more than nine minutes.
Chauvin was convicted last month of second- and third-degree murder, as well as second-degree manslaughter.
It is unclear what prompted the conversation in the video.
It begins with the teacher talking about how there have "been a lot of shootings with people of color.
"The reason why you don't hear about it though is because it doesn't fit that angry white male narrative."
"It's not just crazy white men who do shootings," she said, before appearing to start discussing the police-involved killing of Ma'Khia Bryant.
"It was a terrible thing for the girl to get shot," she said, but suggested Columbus, Ohio Police Officer Nicholas Reardon did not have a choice because she was going to stab another victim and police do not "have time to choose between their gun and taser."
"I agree that there needs to be some, I don't want to say reform, I want to say training," the teacher acknowledges, before telling the students in the class that they should comply with police officers even if they think they are being arrested unjustly
"I’m an old white lady and if the cops came up to me and said ma’am, put your hands behind your back, you’re going to jail… I’m putting my hands behind my back," she said, adding that she would tell the police officer she has a gun on her ankle, which she has a concealed carry permit for.
The teacher also insinuates that the students would be OK in a police encounter because they are "dressed nicely" and "don't look like thugs" with their "pants around their knees."
At that point, a woman whose name is "Liz" on the Zoom call and identifies herself as a tutor of some of the students, spoke up and said she was not comfortable with the discussion.
"Police should be trained to not kill people even if they don't comply," she said, and "should be trained not to judge people" on their skin color or how they dress either.
Soon after, a mother who appears to be videotaping the call speaks up as well and says she does not feel "Ms. Gardner" should be speaking about these topics as a white woman.
"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," said the woman, who identified herself as a woman of color who faced racism growing up in the South.
"You should stop this conversation - period," the mother says, although it appears she is muted at that point.
District officials said they were notified about the conversation by a parent last Wednesday.
The teacher is now on leave pending an investigation by the Human Resources Department.
The teacher will be represented by a union advocate while the investigation continues, according to Sandra Ryan, the president of Fairbanks Education Association.
In the meantime, district officials said, Principal Carly Sween and Assistant Principal Clarice Mingo (who is black) have spoken to the students in the class and will continue to "provide opportunities for them to reflect on the situation."