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Saturday, Sep 19, 2020

Los Angeles teacher flees home after receiving death threats for wearing 'I can't breathe' T-shirt

Los Angeles teacher flees home after receiving death threats for wearing 'I can't breathe' T-shirt

A Los Angeles high school teacher said she was forced to flee her home after receiving numerous death threats for wearing an "I can't breathe" T-shirt during one of her virtual class sessions.

The teacher at El Camino Real Charter High School in Woodland Hills, California, initially received backlash last week from a parent who was upset that race and social justice topics were being discussed in his daughter's English class.

The upset parent allegedly shared the photo of the teacher on one of his social media platforms, resulting in widespread support and hate alike. According to the teacher, hundreds of emailed threats flooded her inbox after Elijah Schaffer, the podcast host of the YouTube show "Slightly Offens*ve," posted a screenshot of the photo to his Twitter account, where he has amassed more than 200,000 followers.


Students protest outside El Camino Real Charter High School earlier this week in support of a teacher who wore an "I can't breathe" T-shirt during an online class.



The teacher, who asked not to be named out of concerns for her safety, said she and her teenage daughter left their home after fearing some of the threatening messages she received.

El Camino Real Charter High School, Schaffer and the parent who allegedly shared the photo did not respond to CNN's request on Thursday for comment. In an interview with The Los Angeles Times, the high school's executive director David Hussey said administrators have reached out to the teacher to "help her and support her as best as we can."

"The start of the school year with distance learning has been stressful and traumatic enough, but now this teacher has the stress and trauma of being attacked and harassed with hate speech and threats," Cecily Myart-Cruz, president of the United Teachers Los Angeles union said, speaking on behalf of the teacher. "This is absolutely unacceptable."

The ordeal comes after El Camino Real Charter High School permitted the teacher to modify her curriculum to include school-led instruction about racial and social injustice following numerous instances of police brutality that have garnered nationwide attention, the teacher said.

The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) confirmed the school is an independent charter and can develop instruction on these topics as long as they follow state guidelines.


Students protest outside El Camino Real Charter High School earlier this week in support of a teacher who wore an "I can't breathe" T-shirt during an online class.


"Simply saying Black Lives Matter is not enough: educators and administrators must actively show it in their work in creating and promoting anti-racist curriculum," Myart-Cruz said. "It is paramount that our educators are able to teach these subjects knowing they will have the support and protection of their administration."

Several LAUSD educators posted messages across social media in solidarity with the teacher who was targeted.


"In support of our colleague from El Camino Real Charter High ... We won't stop! We won't back down! #BlackLivesMatter," wrote LAUSD teacher Stacey Joy on Twitter.

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