A book read aloud to Binghamton elementary school students has been met with criticisms from a local police union. The Binghamton City School District says the book called "Something Happened In Our Town" by Marianne Celano, Marietta Collins and Ann Hazzar, tackles social justice issues, but the Binghamton Police Benevolent Association says it disparages and demonizes police, leaving children with the impression that they can't be trusted. 

The Binghamton Police Benevolent Association asked for and received an apology from the school district. 

In a letter, the police union points to various pieces of dialogue in the book that they find problematic, including “The cops shot him because he’s black" and “'But he won’t go to jail' said his father. 'Cops stick up for each other,' said Josh’s brother Malcolm. 'And they don’t like black men.'"

In a written response, the Binghamton City School District says the publisher's suggested audience for the book is ages 4 to 8 and it was meant to address racial biases and show the different perspectives of two children growing up in the same town and the same classroom. 

"While the book includes conversation around racial bias and injustice against African Americans, the concepts are focused on the importance of treating everyone fairly. As the book shares, 'there are many cops, black and white, who make good choices.' The dialogue following the reading of this book draws awareness to bias, emphasizing that it is not okay to judge people based on their race, what they look and sound like, or the role they play in the community," reads a statement from the Binghamton City School District.

In addition to the letter from the Binghamton police union, the school district says they also received several phone calls from parents expressing concerns over the book. In a statement that is several paragraphs long, the district ultimately apologized to local members of law enforcement.

We support and respect the brave police officers that protect our community. In no way does this book represent our thinking or beliefs about our police. It is unfortunate when any profession is portrayed negatively. We apologize for the negative light this has shined on their profession and commitment to our safety. The Binghamton City School District has embraced School Resource Officers, each whom have served as outstanding role models for our students. We are proud of the relationships they and other officers have developed with our students and the school community.

- Binghamton City School District


Local activism group, Progressive Leaders of Tomorrow (PLOT) have expressed disappointment in this apology from the district. Posting to social media, the group says police should not be allowed to influence what is taught in schools and they are urging members of the community to attend Monday night's school board meeting. 

In social media posts, PLOT says the book has been removed from the school's curriculum. A spokesperson from Binghamton City School District clarifies that a video of a reading of the book has been removed from YouTube, it has not been removed from the curriculum. The spokesperson says the YouTube video did not allow for the book to be presented in the context it requires, which led to the decision to take it down.