Celebrated teacher almost fired by Minneapolis Public Schools for monitoring the arrest of a black man
June 14, 2016
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The Minneapolis Board of Education had been scheduled to vote on firing of award-winning teacher Crystal Spring at this week’s board meeting.

According to City Pages, Spring was attempting to witness the arrest of a young black man by Minneapolis Police officers:

The night of May 19, Spring was driving home after a 14-hour day when she heard yelling in the intersection of Franklin and Clinton Avenues. A number of people had gathered by the side of the road, where Minneapolis Police officers were arresting an African-American man. Curious about what was happening, Spring pulled over and sat in her car, watching.

A police officer told her to move her car, so she parked in an alley and stood on the sidewalk. According to Spring’s account, police again told her to move the car. She responded that she would. Police then placed the man in the back of their squad and drove to a nearby Wendy’s parking lot. Spring followed, parking in a distant space before getting out with phone in hand. As she approached the police, an officer again asked her what she was doing there. Spring answered that she was watching.

At this point, police took her phone and began to cuff her, according to Spring. A deputy explained that witnesses had seen her yelling and running in the streets, and that she’d have to spend the night in jail.

She was charged with obstructing justice, a misdemeanor.

Word of Spring’s arrest got back to Minneapolis Public Schools’ Human Resources which moved to fire her.

A Facebook post from activist Shannon Gibney reveals the district’s claim against Spring found in her termination letter: “…the District became aware of your arrest on Thursday, May 19, 2016. In that incident, you allegedly approached police officers involved with taking someone into custody. You parked your vehicle near the incident and confronted the officers on several occasions despite being told to step back. You then proceeded to follow the officers across the street and began to confront witnesses who were being interviewed by the officers, telling them not to cooperate with the officers and accusing the officers of being racist. Witnesses at the scene corroborated the officers’ account of your behavior. You were arrested and charged with obstruction of legal process and disorderly conduct.

Let that sink in. A teacher who leads a highly successful high school theater program that explores social justice themes with urban students could lose her job for being an active citizen.

Minneapolis suffers from perpetual tensions between police and the black community. Multiple officer involved shootings have been deemed suspicious by community leaders and justice has been slow coming. Analysis by Minnesota Public Radio estimates the city has paid out over $9.3 million to settle police abuse cases.

To add to it all, and the president of the police officers union has been connected to a motorcycle club called “bigots on bikes” by the Anti-Defamation League.

Many social justice teachers teach their students to avoid being bystanders in matters of injustice.

Maybe we need more teachers who are unbecoming by the standard of Minneapolis Public Schools.

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