Binghamton Police Demand Apology, Removal of Anti-Racism Book Taught at BCSD School

BINGHAMTON—The New York Times bestseller, “Something Happened in Our Town” was pulled from a local elementary school’s virtual curriculum last week, and an apology issued to local law enforcement by Binghamton City School District Superintendent, Tonia Thompson.

The popular anti-racism book was posted earlier this month on MacArthur Elementary School’s public Facebook page as part of their “Book of the Month” series.

Thompson’s public apology—which can be read here—was sent out to parents and police officials Friday afternoon, after mounting pressure from the Binghamton Police Department. The apology was neither reviewed nor approved by the School Board before being issued.

Audio link of “Something Happened In Our Town.”

As noted in Thompson’s apology, “the book includes conversation around racial bias and injustice against African Americans” and is geared towards children “ages 4 to 8.” Thompson went on to apologize for the “negative light” the book shines on the profession of policing.

Emails like the one below quickly began circulating among local educators and concerned parents, informing the community that Binghamton police are expected to attend Monday’s virtual school board meeting to further condemn the children’s book. The Southern Tier’s Fraternal Order of Police have created a Facebook event for their virtual demonstration.

Sources say Binghamton police are both “offended and outraged” that the Binghamton School District would educate children about the epidemic of police brutality currently gripping the nation.

Community members have expressed frustration on social media that local law enforcement would be allowed to dictate academic curriculum without input from faculty, staff, students, or the School Board. Organizers are encouraging parents and students to attend Monday’s virtual school board meeting to demand the curriculum be restored, and to speak out against Superintendent Thompson’s inappropriate apology to law enforcement.

Residents can attend the meeting with the credentials below:

•April 19, 2021 (Monday) 7:15pm EST
•Zoom link: https://binghamtonschools-org.zoom.us/j/93487007306
•Or by phone: 1–646–876–9923 or 1–888–788–0099 (toll free)
•Webinar ID: 934 8700 7306

MacArthur School is no stranger to controversy when it comes to books discussing race. In 2019, after national outcry stemming from Binghamton residents, the book “Who Was Harriet Tubman?” was removed from the school’s curriculum and eventually pulled from distribution by the publisher.

This story is developing.

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