A South Carolina police union is taking a stand against including Angie Thomas’ award-winning novel The Hate U Give on Wando High School students’ summer reading list, The Guardian reports. The Fraternal Order of Police Tri-County Lodge #3 claims that the book is “almost an indoctrination of distrust of police.”
The Hate U Give, one of two novels on the list that the police disapprove of, is about a teenage girl who witnesses police officers shoot and kill her unarmed best friend. A similar story for the students’ summer reading is Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely’s All American Boys, which is about a teenage boy who is wrongly suspected of shoplifting and then beaten by an officer.
“Our books are not anti-police, they are anti-police brutality,” said the Kiely, Reynolds and Thomas in a joint statement. “We’re proud of the teachers at Wando HS who are using literature that reflects the lives of so many young people across this country. To deny these books from reading lists would deny too many young people reflections of the reality they know and experience.”
The president of the police union, John Blackmon, claims they’ve received outrage from parents over the narratives surrounding police brutality.
“Freshmen, they’re at the age where their interactions with law enforcement have been very minimal,” Blackmon says. “They’re not driving yet, they haven’t been stopped for speeding, they don’t have these type of interactions.”
With the union challenging the books vehemently, a school committee must now review the material and report to the superintendent who will then make a decision.
The National Coalition Against Censorship urges that the books on remain on the list.
“Removing books that have been selected for their educational value solely because the ideas expressed in them conflict with some parents’ political or moral beliefs would improperly allow parents to dominate the public education process with their opinions,” it wrote. “For young readers in Charleston, The Hate U Give and All American Boys offer insight into the racial injustices many people of color experience, and inspiration for young activists who desire change.”