Brooklyn teacher: School banned pro-police attire and “Proud Zionist” shirt while permitting BLM clothing

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NEW YORK CITY, NY – An MS-31 William Alexander school ELS teacher in Brooklyn has filed a discrimination complaint over not being permitted to wear his self-made “Proud Zionist” shirt despite the school permitting Black Lives Matter t-shirts.

The school permits employees to wear BLM t-shirts but prohibits the wearing of pro-police or pro-Israel clothing, according to a complaint filed by teacher Jeffrey Levy. The complaint says school principal Neal Singh ordered him to stop wearing his “Proud Zionist” shirt featuring a Star of David image.

In the complaint filed in September with the city’s Department of Education’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity, Levy wrote:

“Singh told me that my T-shirt with an Israeli flag on it and the words ‘Proud Zionist’ were ‘politically explosive.’

“He told me that Zionism involves the retaking of Palestinian land and is ‘offensive.’”

Levy said Singh has also complained about pro-police “Back the Blue” t-shirts he has worn in the past, saying students and staff complained.

Levy admitted to the New York Post that he was recently confronted by a student outside school for wearing a pro-Israel shirt. He said the student yelled, “Palestine is Palestine!”

The teacher said he simply replied that the student was “welcome to your opinion.”

Levy said in the complaint that the principal’s stances represented a double standard:

“Singh has permitted other staff to wear attire with ‘Black Lives Matter,’ ‘Feminism is the radical idea that women are people,’ ‘Feminist’ and ‘O’Connor & Ginsburg & Sotomayor & Kagan.’

“None of my attire, actions or beliefs endanger the emotional or physical safety of students or staff, which Singh accused me of. … I have conducted myself professionally and have always respected the beliefs of all while doing my job neutrally and without bias. … His attempt to threaten and intimidate me is anti-Semitic.”

Levy received support from the Americans Against Antisemitism group, (AmericansAA) an organization formed in 2019 to combat the re-emergence of anti-Semitic attacks in the United States. Their website states the group’s purpose:

“(To) raise awareness of the dangerous and unacceptable increase in violent expressions of Jew-hatred and holding both those that indulge in vile antisemitism and their enablers fully accountable.”

Former state Assemblyman Dov Hikind, who heads the anti-Semitism group, sent a letter to schools Chancellor Meisa Ross Porter agreeing that school officials were behaving anti-Semiticly:

“How insulting. This is sick. This is pathetic. This is anti-Semitic. You can’t say you’re a proud Jew and supportive of the people and the state of Israel?

“There should be one standard for all. But this is what’s going on in our city.”

With the help of AmericansAA, Levy collected multiple photographs showing school staff members wearing shirts displaying feminist slogans and other phrases.

Yet, the Department of Education (DOE) is backing Principal Singh. The DOE issued a statement saying Levy’s shirts were unacceptable personal political statements:

DOE spokeswoman Katie O’Hanlon wrote:

“Schools are not public forums for advancing personal political views, and per Department of Education regulations, employees are prohibited from using schools for the purpose of political expression.

“This principal’s request followed complaints from students and staff and is consistent with policies around political neutrality in schools.”

The school has not clarified why pro-Israel and pro-Police attire are prohibited for being offensive, while Black Lives matter, feminism, and other attire are permitted.

Editor note: In 2020, we saw a nationwide push to “defund the police”.  While we all stood here shaking our heads wondering if these people were serious… they cut billions of dollars in funding for police officers.  And as a result, crime has skyrocketed – all while the same politicians who said “you don’t need guns, the government will protect you” continued their attacks on both our police officers and our Second Amendment rights.

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Ohio college retracts ban on selling ‘Back the Blue’ shirts, but denies sales to community at large

November 10, 2021

 

ADA, OH – Officials at Ohio Northern University have changed their mind after refusing to allow the sale of “Back the Blue” t-shirts, but they have still limited sales only to the group making the shirts in the first place.

According to an exclusive report by Campus Reform, in September 2021, the Ohio Northern University (ONU) College Republicans chapter requested permission from ONU to print “Back the Blue” t-shirts honoring police.

The design for the long sleeve shirts featured “Back the Blue” on the sleeve and the Thin Blue Line flag on the back, with no ONU logos or visible affiliation with ONU.

College Republicans president Madeline Markwood went to the extra effort to submit an approval request for the shirts, even though that action was not absolutely necessary.

She told Campus Reform:

“In the student handbook nothing states an organization has to get apparel approved, however, I received an email telling student organization presidents to get apparel approved. 

“In which case, we went ahead and asked for approval to be considerate of their wishes and make sure everyone was happy.”

Unfortunately, her efforts led to a roadblock from the Communications and Marketing Department.

Markwood recalled:

“My intentions of making sure everyone (College Republicans and the Communication and Marketing Department) were on the same page and informed of what our organization was doing ended up just backfiring.”

In an email thread, embedded below, the ONU associate director of Communications and Marketing, Sheila Baumgartner, did not approve the shirts.  

She wrote to Markwood that “[d]ue to the sensitivity around this request,” her office consulted with the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion board and the Office of Multicultural Development office.

Baumgartner continued:

“They then discussed as a group and would recommend not moving forward with this project. 

“There are several schools who allowed Blue Lives initiatives who have had to retract and apologize….

“The support for not sanctioning this is massive.”

ONU denies College Republic… by Campus Reform

ONU College Republicans faculty adviser Robert Waters disagreed with this decision, explaining to Campus Reform:

“One of a university’s many roles is to foster discussion and allow students to express themselves in ways that help them affirm their beliefs and identities.” 

He added:

”If a student organization wants to celebrate the police who protect them, their families, and their communities, that certainly fits within this definition.” 

In her email to Markwood denying the request to print the Back the Blue shirts, Baumgartner suggested a dialogue with the ONU Office of Multicultural Development,  to discuss “what might be perceived as problematic about this message.”

Markwood connected with Albertina Walker, the interim director for the Ohio Northern University Office of Multicultural Development.

Walker wrote, in part:

“Once we understand what it means for your organization to ‘support the Police Union’ by selling its paraphernalia, I can better understand your perspective(s).  Feel free to forward links to articles that help make your desires clear, if you like.”

Markwood responded:

“If I may be frank, we do not believe we have to prove the reason for our support nor explain our reasoning.  It is self explanatory.

“We think the explanation should come from you showing us the reasoning on behalf of your perspective(s) of it problematic, controversial, and being an issue in American Culture….

“As a student organization we simply want to sell these shirts and would like to spend our time supporting the police (the brave men and women who protect us all day everyday).”

After Campus Reform publicized the denial on the Back the Blue shirts, Markwood was asked to meet with the dean of students, Adrian Thompson Bradshaw, about the shirts and their associated controversy.

At the meeting, according to Campus Reform, Markwood “was asked why the club wished to sell these shirts on campus and how it would address students’ concerns and issues with the design.”

Markwood responded:

“We’re not here to target them. We’re not here to make them feel unsafe. We’re just supporting a movement.” 

Evidently that explanation was not enough for those opposed to the shirts, as Markwood ended up having to negotiate by agreeing to sell the shirts only to the College Republicans chapter, and no one else.

Markwood told Campus Reform that the deal was “better than nothing,” and added:

“However, it shouldn’t have been a win in the first place. Because it should be something that is okay to sell on campus.”

She continued:

“You don’t have to buy a shirt, but the students should have the freedom to do so whether they’re in College Republicans or not.

“And it’s literally silencing a group.”

Sgt. Betsy Brantner Smith, a spokesperson for the National Police Association, told Fox News that the controversy at ONU was all about a “false narrative.”

She said:

“This notion that American law enforcement is somehow dangerous to students or the very innocuous slogan of ‘Back the Blue.’ 

“In other words, we support our police that that is somehow a triggering issue or somehow a sensitive thing to say. 

“Again, it’s silliness, and it’s based on a false narrative, and we, the American people, have got to continue to stand together to fight that false narrative.” 

 

 

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