One of the state’s largest police unions called out Gov. Tim Walz and his administration Friday for “counseling teachers and parents to use materials which instill fear of police officers in young children.”
According to a letter sent to Walz by the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association (MPPOA), a fourth-grade class at Echo Park Elementary in Burnsville had students watch a video version of the book “Something Happened In Our Town.”
The book claims police demonstrate a “pattern” of “being nice to white people and mean to black people.”
“The cops shot him because he was black,” one character in the book says, according to the video.
Another character says that “cops stick up for each other,” which is why a fictional officer in the book “won’t go to jail.”
“And they don’t like black men,” says one of the characters.
The book is recommended by both the Minnesota Department of Health and the Minnesota Department of Education as a resource for children to have conversations about race, the letter to Walz states.
“However, this book leaves children with the impression that police officers are not there for the public safety of their communities and even suggests that children should fear police officers,” the letter says. “This book encourages children to fear police officers as unfair, violent, and racist.”
The letter, sent by MPPOA Executive Director Brian Peters, asks the state to “cease the recommendation and use of this book as a form of instruction for elementary aged children.”
“Our members deserve better from the state than to see their profession demonized. Their families deserve better from the state than to see their loved ones who risk their lives disparaged and unfairly cast as violent or racist, and we hope you agree,” the letter continues.
Three Republican state lawmakers — Reps. Ron Kresha, Sondra Erickson and Brian Johnson — released a joint statement in response to the letter.
“There are important conversations to be had about race, equity, and how we can make sure every Minnesotan feels protected and respected by law enforcement, but telling children that cops ‘don’t like black men’ and using children’s educational material to drive hateful narratives about law enforcement is outrageous and unacceptable,” they said.
“Demonizing an entire profession, including parents of the children to whom this book is being promoted, is not the way to bring people together,” said the statement. “Instead, this material will endanger efforts to make our communities safer and improve relationships between police and the communities they are sworn to protect.”
Read the letter: