A cartoon assigned to students by a Westchester County high school teacher has parents livid upon discovering that the illustration compares police officers to Klansmen and slave traders.
According to the New York Post, Westlake High School teacher Christoper Moreno gave his 11th-graders an assignment on the “European Colonization of America” and the “Origins of American Society/Conflict/Power.”
On the paper was a five-frame cartoon depicting a Black man being knelt on by a slave trader, then an overseer, a Klansman, a segregation-era sheriff, and finally a police officer resembling Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis officer awaiting trial for the death of George Floyd.
“My daughter showed me the paper. I said, `What is this?! You’ve got to be kidding me!’ ” said Westlake mom Ania Paternostro, who notified the Post of the offensive assignment. “This cartoon compares the police to the KKK. It’s an attack on the police.”
Paternostro said she immediately sent letters to Mount Pleasant School District Superintendent Kurt Kotes and Westlake Principal Keith Schenker.
“Enough is enough,” she told The Post. “This cartoon is disturbing. We have to respect the men in blue who protect us… We don’t need a teacher brainwashing my kids. I’ll teach my kids about what’s right and what’s wrong.”
“The cartoon was disgusting,’’ Paternostro’s daughter, Nicole, said of the assignment. “It compared the police with all the terrible people in history. It was not fair. It wasn’t right.’’
For calling out her teacher on the cartoon, Nicole said she has been bullied on social media and accused of being a racist.
The Post reported that Moreno did not respond to e-mail and phone requests for comment.
Kotes and Schenker also declined comment, although the superintendent issued a letter to Paternostro and other parents that a thorough investigation into Moreno’s lesson plan would be conducted.
“Once the investigation has been completed we will follow up with the community to the extent necessary and legally appropriate,” Kotes wrote.
The Post was, however, able to reach former members of law enforcement in the Mt. Pleasant community for comment.
“It’s a smack in the face to law enforcement, it’s an absolutely a smear of the police,” said Steve Kardian, a retired Mt. Pleasant police officer and former New York City investigator.
“Parents don’t send their children to school to learn to hate America and our police,” said Former Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, a Republican running for state senate in the district. “Our schools should be a place for the open exchange of ideas, not political indoctrination. The false narratives and brainwashing has to stop.”
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