A New Jersey high school teacher has been suspended after being taped branding George Floyd a criminal in a profanity rant during class, school officials said.
The video shows Howard Zlotkin, a teacher at William L. Dickinson High School in Jersey City, exposed against Black Lives Matter and Floyd during an online class on April 28.
“I hear people cry and cry about Black Lives Matter but George Floyd was a criminal (expletive) who was arrested,” Zlotkin, who is white, said in a video obtained by WNBC-TV.
Former Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin was recently convicted of Floyd’s murder, which sparked months of protests around the world to demand an end to police brutality last year. Floyd, who was Black, died last year after Chauvin rested his knee on his neck for more than nine minutes.
Zlotkin told high school students that Floyd was killed “because he didn’t want to bow to the police” and that didn’t make him a hero, according to WNBC.
Zlotkin was suspended without pay and information about the incident was sent to the Jersey City Public School District Legal Department, according to a statement provided to USA TODAY by Deputy Superintendent Norma Fernandez.
“The District is appalled by the teacher’s unseemly behavior and the explosion of unprofessionalism,” the statement said. “His views do not reflect the Jersey City Public School District’s emphasis on equity and embracing diversity.
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Zlotkin has also been suspended pending an investigation at Hudson County Community College, where he is an assistant professor. In a statement, the college called Zlotkin’s comments “offensive and derogatory” and said his behavior violated the school’s anti-bullying policy.
Zlotkin told the New York Times he couldn’t comment in detail due to the investigation, but that he “would someday like to give my side of the story,” calling the footage a “very well-edited sound bite. “.
Timmia Williams, one of the students in the class, told WNBC that Zlotkin appeared to be targeting black students during his rant and that Zlotkin had awarded four black students an essay.
The New York Times reported that the students were assigned to write about “why black lives should matter” to Zlotkin’s landscape and design class.
In class the next day, Zlotkin expressed his anger at Williams’ refusal to write the essay.
“You know what, Timmia, don’t worry,” Zlotkin said in a second video obtained by WNBC. “You are full of (swear words) too.”
Williams’ mother told the station her daughter cried about the incident.
“She came to me, said, ‘Mom, why is there something wrong with my skin?’” Williams’ mother told WNBC.
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Jersey City school board chairman Mussab Ali announced on Facebook that Zlotkin had been suspended amid an ongoing investigation.
“This individual’s comments are not representative of our district or our city,” Ali said in a Facebook post on Friday, noting that the board passed a resolution last June declaring racism a health crisis. public following the murder of George Floyd.
Contact News Now Reporter Christine Fernando at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter at @christinetfern.