In the week following the murder of Terence Crutcher, teachers at the Tulsa middle school, where his daughter attends, have paused the usual academic rigmarole to instead have a dialogue about race-based police violence.
As teacher Rebecca Lee recounted on Facebook, teachers at KIPP Tulsa College Prep have taken it upon themselves to lead discussions among their students about dealing with the tragic loss of one of their classmate’s fathers.
In addition to Crutcher’s sixth-grade daughter, at least 10 other students and employees at the small college prep school are related to Crutcher, according to Tulsa World.
KIPP’s principal Andrew McRae said, “We decided as a faculty we weren’t just going to ignore this [loss]. We wanted to help our students process this.”
Elle reported that Lee wrote on Facebook that she facilitated a classroom discussion about Crutcher’s murder by having her students read a news article about his death together.
When she opened up the room for questions, the middle-schoolers wanted to know things such as,
"Why did they have to kill him? Why were they afraid of him? Why does [his daughter] have to live life without a father? What will she do at father daughter dances? Who will walk her down the aisle? Why did no one help him after he was shot? Hasn't this happened before? Can we write her cards? Can we protest?"
Lee wrote, “As the questions roll, so do the tears. Students cry softly as they speak. Others weep openly.”
As Lee mentioned, Crutcher’s death affects more than his family and loved ones, and her students. She wrote, “We are shaping [our students] world view with blood and bullets, hashtags, and viral videos… Is this how we want them to think?”
Crutcher was unarmed when fatally shot by police officer Betty Shelby, who has been charged with manslaughter for her criminal act.
The perpetual crisis of police violence against people of color, minorities, and those with disabilities is one that must be addressed by our elected politicians.
Despite public efforts to engage a federal response in the conversation, it seems it isn’t enough for citizens to take to the streets and for athletes to refuse to participate in the national anthem to bring an end to this biased form of violence.
Banner photo credit: Facebook, Rebecca Lee