Staten Island Teachers Furious Their Union Didn't Want Them to Wear NYPD Shirts to the First Day of School

SI-teachers-NYPD-shirts.jpg
Image via Facebook
A group of teachers, reportedly from P.S. 220 in Queens, posted photos of themselves in NYPD shirts.
A group of public school teachers in Staten Island planned to wear T-shirts supporting the New York Police Department to the first day of school yesterday, but most backed off after warnings from their union, the United Federation of Teachers. The Staten Island Advance reports that more than 600 shirts reading "New York's Brightest Supports New York's Finest #ThankYouNYPD" were purchased from a specialty T-shirt printing company in Staten Island earlier this month. A group of teachers, pictured above, reportedly from P.S. 220 in Queens, posted photos of themselves in NYPD shirts in an apparent act of solidarity, although it's not clear if they actually wore them to class.

The teachers are angry that the UFT officially supported last month's Al Sharpton-led march protesting the death of Staten Island man Eric Garner, who died in July after being placed in a chokehold by police officer Daniel Pantaleo. A statement posted to the UFT's Facebook page on August 16 read, in part, "The UFT has a long history of activism on behalf of our students, their families and all the communities of our city. UFT members who choose to take part in Saturday's march will be continuing that history. We support the right to due process for all people, especially police officers, who often do difficult jobs under trying circumstances. We know that justice in the wake of Eric Garner's tragic death will best be served by a thorough and transparent investigation."

Almost immediately, an online petition was circulated calling on UFT President Mike Mulgrew to resign. It was started by Diane Morton-Gattullo, a paraprofessional at P.S. 29, and garnered about 1,700 signatures. Meanwhile, a Facebook group, UFT Members for the NYPD, has 156 members. They expressed their rage after teachers got e-mail and text reminders from their union Wednesday afternoon reminding them to "dress professionally" for the first day of class, according to the Advance. The paper says the message added:

The DOE has reason to believe that there may be protests in the form of tee shirts that will be worn to school tomorrow. They would like us to remind you that as public employees, one must remain objective at all times. Certain tee shirt messages may appear to be supportive, but individuals may see a different meaning in that message. Principals may report any inappropriate apparel to the chancellor.

Maria_Stokes_NYPD_shirt.jpg
Image via Facebook
A few defiant teachers, though, said in the Facebook group that they would wear the shirts regardless of the UFT's directive. Raymond Cottrell, a science teacher at Myra S. Barnes middle school, vowed, "I will be wearing NYPD shirts all week." Maria Stokes, a physical education teacher at Tottenville High School, said she'd worn one to the first day of class, and posted the picture at right to prove it. And several teachers said they'd cancel their monthly payments towards COPE, the UFT's political action fund.

The Police Benevolent Association is also furious. The PBA is the NYPD's largest union; its president, Patrick Lynch, has released a series of defiant and often controversial statements in the wake of Garner's death. He accused the UFT of using "management-like scare tactics" to suppress the teachers' right to free speech. His full statement reads:

Teachers wearing NYPD shirts to school only underscores the solid relationship that exists between rank and file teachers and police officers. Mike Mulgrew needs to consider the opinions of the vast majority of his members before misusing their dues money to support anti-police issues. Besides, what could be inappropriate about showing support for the police department that protects teachers and students alike? I also find it odd that a union would use management-like scare tactics in order to suppress the free expression of their members' ideas. That goes against all of the principles for which unions stand.

- See also: Police Union President: Ramsey Orta, Arrested Witness to Eric Garner's Death, Is 'Demonizing the Good Work of Police Officers'

The other side of the argument is pretty clear: that a teacher, especially a white one, wearing a shirt supporting the NYPD to class would create a hostile learning environment for black teenagers. In a widely shared tweet, MSNBC segment producer Jamil Smith said just that:

The UFT hasn't officially commented on the T-shirt kerfuffle, although its Facebook page is filled with angry comments from teachers who feel their shirt-wearing liberty has been trampled upon.


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59 comments
DJTime
DJTime

"Black people stop acting like sh!t is ALL GOOD and take a page out of Robert Mugabe's playbook - EXILE ALL WHITE TEACHERS and POLICE OFFICERS from black neighborhoods. Do not allow them to continue to be paid with your tax dollars to make mockery of your history and experiences in this country, mis-educate and MURDER YOUR CHILDREN!" - Wise Intelligent

Alicia Lucas
Alicia Lucas

Well how would you be so familiar with the gay bond age prostitution ads? HMMM.

Alicia Lucas
Alicia Lucas

Jeremy Mayer and you're not racist because you have a black friend right? GTFOH with this reverse Racism crap.

blackchick529
blackchick529

Love how these white people want to instruct black people how to handle their oppression and continued abuse from police.....after all, they've dealt with it! This is white privilege at its finest -- completely oblivious!

Christian Wells
Christian Wells

Anyone that supports police "officers" has got to be delusional.

Jenn Marie
Jenn Marie

Its not about racism, these teachers probably don't see their act as racist at all, it's about white privilege, and if you say that it doesn't exist, you're exhibit #1.

Patrice Urquhart
Patrice Urquhart

No! It promotes racial divide, however, that may be their true motivation. These teachers suck!

Rick Agcauili
Rick Agcauili

Enough w/ the Union of FAILED Teachers. Signed, former V V Union member.

Jeremy Mayer
Jeremy Mayer

Again...you are implying that white conservatives are racist and have had easy lives displaying YOUR racism and immaturity. If you teach your mind to love everyone regardless of race you won't be so easily offended. You also need to teach yourself to respond to ignorant people with calm compassion rather than wild anger. You will be the bigger person in front of those people.

Patrick Lew
Patrick Lew

"Race doesn't exist because I'm white and conservative. So if *I'M* not offended by anything racial, then YOU shouldn't be, either!" -Jeremy Mayer

Serchu Sergio
Serchu Sergio

Only white people. How will they teach about rascim and abuse of authority?

Tommy Haynes
Tommy Haynes

How stupid can people be? I expected more from teachers

Sonny Faljean
Sonny Faljean

Any "urbanite" who feels the need to discuss "hostile environments" should start with a serious review of their own neighborhoods. We can address the teachers who attempt to bring a semblance of normalcy to the urban setting after we hit on a few more pressing issues such as the perpetually elevated levels of violence among certain identifiable demographics (not Staten Island teachers, FYI), the breakdown of the poor urban family structure, and the tacit acceptance of anti-social behavior.

Herb Miller
Herb Miller

Looks like there will a lot of teaching jobs available!

Scotty Darda
Scotty Darda

Another reason to not live in Staten Island, not like we really needed more...

Moby
Moby

Get some revenge.

Students should Anal Fuck the teachers in the classroom and film it.

Post it on twitter and Instagram it.

Mark Ninci
Mark Ninci

Love the racial diversity in this crowd of idiots.

ursanegro
ursanegro

ugh. staten island. 


if i were a black teacher in that school [of course, it being staten island, it's very likely there aren't any], or even any kind of worker, i would submit a grievance for a hostile work environment. 


and yes, if i were a black student there, i would be like, "clearly my teacher only sees me as a paycheck and gives zero fux about me." oh, wait. i went to high school in one of the whitest counties in one of the whitest states in the nation. that was exactly how it went. 

Sonny Faljean
Sonny Faljean

Isn't the Voice the magazine that carries gay bondage prostitute ads? If the Village Voice disdains these teachers, they're aces in my book for that reason alone.

Christopher Calogero
Christopher Calogero

The village voice is still around? I thought the always insignificant garbage finally died. Too bad.

Patrick Lew
Patrick Lew

Your 2 cents are terrible and I demand a refund.

Daniel Munro
Daniel Munro

They should have made shirts that read "NYPD: We'll take your breath away"

Luis Christian Camacho-Dilorenzi
Luis Christian Camacho-Dilorenzi

Stop and frisk. Driving while black/tan/other. Jut a two things that urban kids deal with as that will never happen in the suburbs but I am sure that everyone one of the teachers is related to a LOE. The reality is this what does wearing a shirt mean for the kids that they are teaching? If there is a minority student in class what does that mean to that pupil? That the teacher condones what happened? Mind you I think both the officer and the deceased were in the wrong. Yes both were wrong. But one bad decision led to a fatality. Who's ultimate fault is that? We have no answer. The kids will ask and then what is the answer? The answer is focus on getting these kids to college and let the adult issues outside the classroom.

Jeremy Mayer
Jeremy Mayer

shut up. YOU are the racists for even caring what race they are and thinking non-whites need someone of non-white race to learn from and assuming whites can't relate to non-whites. Do you think you're another species? And what problems do urban kids face that whites can't relate to? Are you implying all black and hispanic communities are more abusive? If I implied that you would call me racist. No. You ignorant people are the racists. Stop looking at race and start being loving to all people. Stop thinking you are so different and dividing yourselves.

Curt Struebin
Curt Struebin

Yep all white. These "teachers" are so removed from the problems many urban ethnic kids face every day. They're delusional.

Mitch Launer
Mitch Launer

Maybe the teachers are anti scum sucking leeches of society

Mitch Launer
Mitch Launer

No, teach the children to fight authority

Jesus M. Chucho Candelario
Jesus M. Chucho Candelario

Figures...College educated morons. NYPD messed up. It's all about the Martial Arts Masters Against Police/Military Brutality. The Real heros.

Djvin Man
Djvin Man

I think they should wear no shirts lmao :)

TheRuggedMale.com
TheRuggedMale.com

Understand this is a sensitive time to be wearing that shirt ... thats all anyone is asking.  Brings to mind the old expression - Those Who Cant .... Teach. 

TheRuggedMale.com
TheRuggedMale.com

Brings to mind the old expression ... those who cant ... teach.

Robert Colando
Robert Colando

Does this imply that they approve of the illegal strangle hold the NYPD used on Eric Garner?

Spence Halperin
Spence Halperin

I am pro-union also, but these women should be fired.

Sandra Skolnik
Sandra Skolnik

Not very smart of teachers' union 'bosses'. I'd fire the bums.

DJTime
DJTime

Then we must address white supremacy first. 

DJTime
DJTime

Eric Garner was not in the wrong nor did he deserved to be murdered. Please don't perpetuate that falsehood.


Those white females could care less about the black and brown children of that school.

temtemmolloy
temtemmolloy

This guy was a cop... Maybe if you weren't a racist fucking cunt you would still be working for the police. Only took me 2 seconds and a google search to see that you have said that a police officer who raped a woman should have killed her. Either you are a lifeless troll or a perfect example of how fucking terrible the police situation is in the states. If you were actually the "authority" at one point than I think maybe the people should fucking rise up against you. That is if your not some stupid neckbeard playing make believe.

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