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Central Falls, RI - Police: Hanging Obama Doll Not a Hate Crime

Published on: March 20, 2010 10:05 PM
By: AP
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Central Falls, RI - A teacher at a failing school where he and all his colleagues are being fired hung an effigy of President Barack Obama in his classroom, apparently in reaction to Obama’s support of extreme measures to ensure accountability in schools.

The teachers union on Thursday condemned the effigy, discovered Monday in the teacher’s third-floor classroom at Central Falls High School, saying it was wrong and cannot be condoned under any circumstances.

The effigy was found in the teacher’s classroom by Superintendent Frances Gallo, Rhode Island Department of Education spokeswoman Nicole Shaffer told The Associated Press. Shaffer said the department would not have any further comment.

Gallo did not immediately respond to calls from the AP seeking comment, but she told CNN that the foot-tall Obama doll that she saw Monday was hung from its feet from a white board and was holding a sign that said, “Fire Central Falls teachers.”

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Obama had called the firings in Central Falls an example of holding failing schools accountable. The White House did not have any immediate comment Thursday.

The president of the Central Falls Teachers Union, Jane Sessums, said in a written statement that the teacher, whose name wasn’t disclosed, hung the doll “as part of what he described as a lesson plan.”

A spokesman for the union said he could not immediately explain what that meant. He said he did not know how long the effigy had been in the classroom.

The union has been fighting the firings at Central Falls High School, one of the state’s worst-performing schools.

All the school’s teachers, administrators and support staff will lose their jobs after the end of the school year. Under a plan approved by the state to improve the school, fewer than half could be rehired next year.

Sessums said the teacher who hung the effigy verbally apologized to his students and asked Gallo if he could also apologize in writing.

“He understands that his actions affect not just his students but all of us,” she wrote. “There is no excuse for what he did.”

Several students and recent graduates interviewed by the AP on Thursday said they hadn’t heard about the effigy, which was hung in an area of the school that’s used for the English as a second language program. Those interviewed said they hadn’t heard anyone expressing anger about Obama’s comments, but many were disappointed.

“A lot of teachers supported Obama,” said Karen Zuniga, who graduated last year and started a Facebook group to protest the firings.

“He hasn’t even been here,” said Jonathan Beltran, another 2009 graduate who opposes the firings. “He doesn’t know what’s going on.”

Senior Valerie Florez said emotions have been running high among the school’s teachers, with some telling students the firings are unfair and at least one breaking down in tears during class.


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Read Comments (12)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Mar 20, 2010 at 10:48 PM Yudi M Says:

They have to start coming up with a name for anti-crimes, cause soon they're gonna be the minority, they've got names for every other crime against minorities.
Just saying

2

 Mar 20, 2010 at 10:55 PM Anonymous Says:

Its not the real thing, only zeicher lechurban.

3

 Mar 20, 2010 at 11:00 PM Milhouse Says:

Of course it's not a crime. What crime would it be?

4

 Mar 20, 2010 at 11:02 PM Anonymous Says:

Much as the whole thing disgusts me I believe this is a political statement, not a hate crime. What irks me is that these teachers feel they deserve to keep their jobs even though they do their jobs badly. Try that in private industry and see how long they'd retain their jobs.

5

 Mar 20, 2010 at 11:03 PM A E ANDERSON | Miami, Fla. Says:

Tasteless as it may be, it is protected political speech.

6

 Mar 20, 2010 at 11:20 PM Charlie Hall Says:

Reply to #3  
Milhouse Says:

Of course it's not a crime. What crime would it be?

There are a lot of disgusting, inappropriate actions that aren't criminal.

7

 Mar 20, 2010 at 11:25 PM Charlie Hall Says:

Reply to #3  
Milhouse Says:

Of course it's not a crime. What crime would it be?

Has anyone else here ever been to Central Falls, RI? I have. It is one of the most depressing places I've ever seen in the US. It was a mill town and the mill closed, and nothing replaced it.

8

 Mar 20, 2010 at 11:39 PM awacs Says:

Reply to #3  
Milhouse Says:

Of course it's not a crime. What crime would it be?

Someone could decided that it's a threat of immediate action. That wouldn't be true (probably) but try telling that to the guy's family... after the Secret Service makes him wish he weren't born. Have any idea what it costs to defend a criminal case nowadays, if you want competent representation? Ain't cheap. And you don't recover your expenses, either, from the gov't. after they say "we're sorry."

9

 Mar 21, 2010 at 12:07 AM yeedel Says:

The government steels enough from it's citizens ,I am glad that the first amendment is so far still protected.

10

 Mar 21, 2010 at 08:13 AM Fair enough Says:

But if somebody hung a doll with beard, peyos and black hat, would everyone be okay about the person not being charged with a hate crime? If it was identified as a particular person in effigy, would that be free speech to you? I'm okay with this not being a crime, but I just want to make sure that the Jews aren't okay with this because it isn't one of our own.

11

 Mar 21, 2010 at 11:44 AM Anonymous Says:

Tasteless way to make a statement, not to mention that Obama happens to actually be right on this one issue. It's time for the teachers' union to go (and I say this as a New York City public school teacher). They protect the teacher at the expense of the kids, and I don't know about anyone else, but I teach for my students! We have to do what's right by our kids, and if I'm not doing my job, then I should have my sorry behind fired immediately- just as I would in any other industry were I failing to meet standards.

12

 Mar 21, 2010 at 07:12 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #10  
Fair enough Says:

But if somebody hung a doll with beard, peyos and black hat, would everyone be okay about the person not being charged with a hate crime? If it was identified as a particular person in effigy, would that be free speech to you? I'm okay with this not being a crime, but I just want to make sure that the Jews aren't okay with this because it isn't one of our own.

noone with payis works in the presidential office

13

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