Teacher Who Was Filmed Telling Class George Floyd Was A ‘Criminal’ Suspended
A New Jersey teacher has been suspended after appearing to target Black students and telling his class George Floyd was a ‘criminal’.
Howard Zlotkin, a science teacher at William L. Dickinson High School in Jersey City, was caught on camera as he launched into an expletive-filled, racist rant against Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement during a landscape and design class that took place online.
Floyd was killed last year by former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, with his death sparking widespread protests and calls for justice, but Zlotkin told his class: ‘He’s not a hero, he’s like a criminal.’
Footage shared with The New York Times also saw Zlotkin chastising students for, as he described it, making criminals into heroes ‘because they’re Black or because they got a bad story.’
An investigation began following the release of the footage and Mussab Ali, the president of the Jersey City Board of Education, said Zlotkin had been suspended with pay.
Ali said: ‘The actions that this teacher took are not representative of a district in the most diverse city in the country.’
Zlotkin has also been suspended with pay from his position as an adjunct professor at Hudson County Community College, a spokesperson confirmed.
Timmia Williams, a 17-year-old senior who shared the videos, said the discussion of Black Lives Matter came about after students submitted short research papers on climate change. Zlotkin asked Williams about how humans are involved in climate change, which led to the teacher’s disagreement with Black Lives Matter.
The teenager, who is Black, challenged Zlotkin’s opinions along with three other students. The teacher is said to have sworn at one of the pupils who told him he had white privilege, before handing out an assignment to write an essay on ‘why Black lives should matter’ solely to those who challenged him.
Discussing the altercation, Williams said: ‘This is the first time I ever felt somebody telling me that my opinion doesn’t matter because I’m young and because I’m Black and stuff. It just threw me off. I just started crying.’
Williams refused to do the assignment Zlotkin had given her, to which the teacher said: ‘Why? You can’t make a case for yourself? No, you can’t, Timmia, that’s why.’
Zlotkin told The Times he could not comment in detail because of the investigation, but claimed the footage consisted of a ‘very well-edited sound bite’ and that he would ‘love one day to give [his] side of the story.’
Williams initially contacted the school and the Board of Education to discuss Zlotkin’s behaviour, but when she failed to get a response she decided to turn the videos over to a news outlet. Williams’ mother, Margie Nieves, has said she is yet to receive any communication or apology from the school.
If you have been affected by any of the issues in this article and wish to speak to someone in confidence, contact Stop Hate UK by visiting their website www.stophateuk.org/talk
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CreditsThe New York Times
The New York Times