Seattle Public Schools receives threats, cancels event for ‘Black Men Uniting'

by: Natasha Chen Updated:

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SEATTLE - Seattle Public Schools has postponed a celebration at John Muir Elementary School on Friday that would have included 100 African American men in the community, greeting children at the door and talking to them at an assembly.

The annual event, called “Black Men Uniting to Change the Narrative,” coincided with some teachers planning to wear “Black Lives Matter” shirts at school.

Seattle Public Schools and the Seattle Police Department told KIRO 7 that threats were posted online related to the events. A Seattle police spokesperson said they would have a visible presence at John Muir Elementary on Friday.

They said police have participated in the celebration in years past and will do so again when the event is rescheduled.

A school district spokesperson told KIRO 7 that teachers can always wear whatever they choose, as long as the clothing does not display profanity. But he said that it is against SPS policy to teach about specific political movements or agendas, including Black Lives Matter.

The vice president of the Seattle Education Association told KIRO 7 Thursday night that several teachers still plan on wearing BLM shirts on Friday.

The quiet residential neighborhood that surrounds John Muir Elementary School is rife with Black Lives Matter signs in front yards. The yard signs are owned by families of different races.

Iyadunni Idowu, who has a daughter in first grade at John Muir Elementary, said she was pleasantly shocked when plans were announced for Friday’s activities and not surprised when they were postponed.

“There’s a lot of people that aren’t ready to deal with these matters and face them,” Idowu said. “I don’t want to say it necessarily makes me sad, but honestly, I’m disappointed.”

Her 6-year-old daughter does not know about the Black Lives Matter movement. But Idowu said she feels comfortable with the topic being introduced in school, so that her daughter learns about it alongside her diverse classmates.

James Kinskey, whose daughter is in fifth grade, said “I’m heartbroken. Safety comes first. But the fact that we can’t have an event like that and feel safe, makes me disappointed in society more than anything else.”

Kinskey said he hopes the community does not run scared.

“We’ve got to find a way to not live in fear and stand up to that in some way,” he said.