Wando High School has provided two New York Times bestsellers as options for its students to read over summer vacation. Even though students only have to read one of the four books offered, a local police union wants two of those books off the list.
According to News2 Charleston, the Wando High School English I reading list (for incoming freshmen) has two books the Fraternal Order of Police’s Tri-County Lodge #3 wants banned — The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (winner of the National Book Award Longlist for Young People’s Literature), and All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely.
“Freshmen, they’re at the age where their interactions with law enforcement have been very minimal. They’re not driving yet, they haven’t been stopped for speeding, they don’t have these type of interactions,” Tri-County Lodge president John Blackmon told News2. “This is putting in their minds, it’s almost an indoctrination of distrust of police and we’ve got to put a stop to that.”
“There are other socio-economic topics that are available and they want to focus half of their effort on negativity towards the police? That seems odd to me,” he added.
Each of those books has plot devices involving police brutality against young people. In The Hate U Give, the protagonist’s best friend is shot to death by police while unarmed. One of the characters in All American Boys is beaten savagely by police after being falsely accused of shoplifting.
“Whether it be through social media, whether it be through text message, whether it be phone calls, we’ve received an influx of tremendous outrage at the selections by this reading list,” Blackmon said.
However, South Carolina is home to one of the most notorious police shootings in recent memory. In April of 2015, North Charleston police officer Michael Slager shot Walter Scott — an unarmed black man — in the back after stopping him for a broken taillight. Slager fired eight shots at Scott while Scott was running away from him. In 2017, Slager was sentenced to 20 years in prison for murder.
More recently, 29-year-old Robert Shaw of West Columbia, South Carolina was shot and killed by police in March of this year after an hours-long standoff in which Shaw held a gun to his head, threatening suicide.
Tom Cahill is a contributor for Grit Post who covers political and economic news. He lives in Bend, Oregon. Send him an email at tom DOT v DOT cahill AT gmail DOT com.