Teachers’ pro-NYPD t-shirts on the first day of school win support from parents

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PARK SLOPE, Brooklyn (PIX11) -- At dozens of schools across New York, the back-to-school clothes worn by students got far less notice than what was being worn by their teachers. Hundreds of them engaged in what they called a protest against their union by wearing t-shirts bearing slogans supporting the NYPD.

"If he can put his opinion on top of the whole union," said teacher Jessica Regevik, referring to United Federation of Teachers, or UFT, President Michael Mulgrew, "then every union member should stand up for ourselves."

Regevik ordered the shirts with the slogans "New York's Brightest Supports New York's Finest," and "#ThankYouNYPD" after Mulgrew threw official UFT support behind the August 23rd Staten Island march and protest against police brutality. The march was organized by Rev. Al Sharpton, in the wake of the death of Eric Garner in police custody on July 17th.

"What happened was a terrible tragedy," said Karen Lane, a librarian at P.S. 124 in Brooklyn, "and it's not our place to be deciding who's guilty and who's not guilty."

Every school year, PIX11 News and other journalism outlets cover stories about students who wear t-shirts to school bearing political messages, who get suspended for them. Earlier this year, an upstate New York student was suspended for wearing an NRA t-shirt to class. The school later dropped its suspension order.

When asked if it was ironic that teachers could wear message-bearing t-shirts and not face suspension, the teachers and staff at P.S. 124 pointed out that they had received support from their principal, and said that their shirts don't criticize or detract from any cause.

"I don't see it as a political message," said Lane. "I just see it as we want our children to respect policemen, to respect firemen, to respect teachers, to respect everybody."

Parents at P.S. 124 also expressed support for the action, which included at least a half dozen teachers and staff at their children's school. At least 550 shirts were printed and sold citywide, according to organizers of the teachers' t-shirt display.

"I think it's fabulous," said P.S. 124 parent Wanda Urena. "They're giving thanks for making sure the kids are okay in the schools. I think it's a great thing."

Parent Ernesto Colon concurred, saying that Garner's death cannot make the entire NYPD look bad. "They're still doing their job trying to take care of us and to protect our kids."

For its part, the UFT pointed out, through an emailed statement, that no union political action money had been used in the UFT's support of the Staten Island rally, at which Mulgrew spoke, and "scores of UFT members joined the march."

The statement also acknowledged some teachers' disapproval of the union's involvement in the August 23rd protest. It pointed out that some teachers' union members "posted angry messages on the UFT Facebook page."

"But our union has a proud legacy of engaging on social justice issues and of supporting and strengthening our communities," the statement goes on to say. "The Aug. 23 march -- where our members joined representatives of the NAACP, a former governor of New York State, and many other local unions -- should be part of that legacy."

There are no known plans by teachers to wear the pro-NYPD t-shirts again on Friday

5 comments

  • NanaSaidSo

    Its so easy for someone who doesnt know about being abused by these cops and racially profiled to say they support NYPD,, When one of their children is Senselessly Choked to Death,, or SHOT to DEATH by the hands of the NYPD . Then I’D like to see these White TEACHERS wear on of those T-Shirts then! Until then,,, They just need to have several seats and keep their mouths shut,

    • Q Bay Ridge

      Supporting the NYPD isn’t a race thing, NANASAIDSO. It’s a matter of supporting the 10’s of thousands of multicultural men and women who lay their lives on the line every time they leave their home, all in pursuit of making NYC the safest big city in the country. Unfortunately, as of late, they (NYPD) are getting less and less respect from the politicians and media outlets of this city. Last I checked, despite the media and politicians irresponsible rush to judgement, a person, including a police officer, is innocent until proven guilty by a jury of their peers.

  • robsky1977

    i agree with you nansaidso, to me is just ridiculous how they can wear t shirts supporting nypd and is ok, i would like to see those students from that school standup for something they believe for example a t shirt saying stop police brutality, i bet they will get suspended

  • SamRnyc

    Let’s be clear: some NYPD officers murdered a unarmed Black man who was committing no crime, who was not resisting, who had his hands in the air, and who screamed that he couldn’t breathe. The entire NYPD rallied around these cops – not a single public statement of condemnation for the murder or for the illegal chokehold. Not a single cop broke ranks and said this was wrong and the killer cops must be held accountable. Thus, the entire NYPD is complicit in this murder. In this context, when a union endorses a rally in support of the murder victim and against police brutality, and then teachers wear shirts in support of the NYPD, their action can mean only one thing: WE SUPPORT THE MURDER OF UNARMED BLACK MEN, WHO COMMIT NO CRIME, BY THE NYPD!!! Racist and disgusting.

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