By Dawn Luger
The state Assembly of New Jersey passed a bill on Thursday that would require K-12 students to be taught how to interact with police officers “in a manner marked by mutual cooperation and respect.” Although the Senate still needs to take action for the bill to become a law, it had an overwhelming amount of support in the assembly; passing 76-0.
The bill is aimed at “teaching” kids how to own responsibility for not interacting in a proper manner when a police officer demands compliance and mandates that school districts begin teaching kids how to talk to law-enforcement officers. Schools will be forced to begin this new indoctrination program starting in kindergarten, and the “instruction” would continue as part of the social studies curriculum all the way through grade 12. The bill is facing harsh blowback from not only the minority community but those skeptical of police actions.
Because the bill originally put all the burden on children to learn to respect cops, it was altered to include a segment about rights. The amended version of the bill now includes a directive that children also must be taught about “an individual’s rights under [the] law in interacting with a law enforcement official.” Of course, it says nothing about children disobeying immoral actions and still places the burden on the civilian.
Activists have a right to be skeptical. If the bill clears the Senate, the schools will begin brainwashing New Jersey children in 2018.
“This legislation does not empower young people, especially those living in brown and black communities,” New Jersey-based teacher and activist Zellie Imani told [NBC News]. “Instead, it empowers law enforcement by allowing them to continue to evade accountability for abuse and misconduct while forcing the burden on the public.”
However, the bill’s primary sponsor, Assemblywoman Sheila Oliver, insists that it is about preparing kids. “This is a lesson many parents already teach to their children,” Oliver said, referring to police interaction. “Making it part of the school curriculum is the next logical step.” –The Root
Most could not agree more with Imani’s statement. And Oliver is grossly mistaken if she thinks children are taught outright compliance regardless of the orders given to them by police. Many teach their children morals, and those children are free thinking individuals who likely won’t just follow orders (does anyone remember Nazi Germany?), unlike police.
The civil rights movement in the United States had its turning point when Martin Luther King, Jr., defied a court order because laws discriminating against blacks were considered to be immoral and unconstitutional. In his account of the civil rights campaign in Birmingham, Alabama, King “speaks of a court injunction obtained by the city administration on April 10, 1963, directing that demonstrations be halted until the right to such activities might be argued in court. Dr. King continues: ‘Two days later, we did an audacious thing, something we had never done in any other crusade. We disobeyed a court order.’” –American Vision
Of course, that’s not all. What’s concerning activists further is a 2016 report by from Washington, D.C.-based Sentencing Project found that New Jersey has the widest disparity between the incarceration rate of black men and white men. “The Garden State puts black residents behind bars at 12 times the rate of white residents,” NJ.com summarizes, “though [the report] noted that gap is expected to shrink thanks to recent changes to New Jersey’s sentencing laws.”
The online blog Blavity also took issue with the bill: “One could argue that the example of young Tamir Rice, who was a school child with zero time to engage with the police before being gunned down or Philando Castile, a registered gun owner and law abiding citizen being killed in his car without provocation, suggests that it may not be the citizens who have an issue when engaging with the police.” –TruthDig
“Should we be teaching kids how to interact peacefully with police, or should we be teaching police how to interact peacefully with civilians?” the ACLU of New Jersey asked in a Facebook post. “ACLU-NJ’s Portia Allen-Kyle points out that the answer is not one or the other. ‘The best option: offer more instruction to law enforcement officers. But in lieu of that, teaching kids about their rights is better than not preparing them at all, because when you know your rights, you’re more likely to know when those rights have been violated.'” The ACLU of New Jersey is keeping close tabs on this bill and similar pieces of legislation in the state. “Placing the onus on individuals,” Allen-Kyle told NBC News, “whether it be students or drivers, to take responsibility for their safety during police interactions is, frankly, ridiculous.”
“Thin Blue Line” backers and police are reveling in the potential passage of this law because it places the burden for police misconduct on the public. But skeptics of the law seem to be rooted more in the reality of the current state of affairs.
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Contributed by Dawn Luger of The Daily Sheeple.