South Carolina High School's Summer Reading List Causes Controversy, Called Anti-Police

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Two books on a summer reading list at a South Carolina high school have caused upset among local authorities who believe the selections paint law enforcement in a negative light.

Wando High School allowed students who are taking an English 1 College Prep to choose from four books on a summer reading list. Two of those books, All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas, address police brutality.

Some members of the community and police are arguing the book choices will breed distrust of law enforcement.

The president of the Tri-County Fraternal Order of Police Lodge Number 3, John Blackmon, said he’s appalled.

"Here we've got law enforcement agencies spending countless man hours trying to build relationships with our youth community and we have a local high school putting together a reading list that paints law enforcement in such a negative light,” John Blackmon, with the Tri-County Fraternal Order of Police, told Live 5 News.

The Hate U Give received the 2017 National Book Award. The book’s main character is drawn to activism after witnessing police shoot one of her best friends. The other book choice, All American Boys, looks at police brutality from the view of two high school classmates.

South Carolina Poet Laureate and author Marjory Wentworth, who teaches a course at the College of Charleston on banned books, said she supports the book choices. She doesn't believe the books are anti-police.

"It's hard for me to imagine in  a place like Charleston where we had the Walter Scott shooting where anyone would not understand the need for all of understanding how did that happen how does it even happen and some people don't want to have that conversation,” Wentworth said.

Blackmon, however, doesn’t see it that way.

"Their impressions of law enforcement are very limited so now they are reading this book which is saying all law enforcement is, is a bunch of bad guy bullies who will beat you up or shoot you and that's not even close to what law enforcement does for our community,” he said.

The books are selected by a committee of Wando High School staff.

The school’s principal released a statement saying the school will review the book choices and she “appreciates the concern” of members of the community.

“I understand two of the selections/choices for this summer’s reading list for English 1 College Prep classes are considered controversial by some members of our community. I appreciate their concern and input regarding this matter. A 'Request for Reconsideration of Instructional Materials' form has been submitted and the school and district will follow the procedures outlined in Policy IJKAA-R in connection with the reconsideration request,” Dr. Sherry Eppelsheimer said in the statement.

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