DENVER (KDVR) — FOX31 is hearing from Denver Public Schools officials after students at South High School watched a four-minute video meant to inform them about how to approach or intervene if they witness a racist or transphobic attack.
But parts of the video reference that police are trained to see people of color as criminals, which the Denver Police Department said earlier this week is not true. The video also suggests never to call the police in these situations, unless the victim asks.
DPS admits the video was not properly vetted, and the school’s principal bears the responsibility for what happened but added “mistakes do happen.”
“In my time here, we haven’t had anything like this before,” Scott Pribble, the director of external communications for DPS, told FOX31.
School administrators were apologetic after students saw the video Tuesday morning during an assembly at the high school. Pribble said the district doesn’t agree with the video’s messaging but understands the intent.
“Being an effective bystander and be willing to step in when somebody may be verbally attacked because of their race or because of their sexual identity, or whatever it is, we think is a good thing,” Pribble said.
“Safety is definitely one of the most important things that we have here at DPS and we know that it takes a good partnership with our safety team as well as DPD to ensure our students and staff are safe,” Pribble said.
‘If there’s violence, there needs to be police intervention’
Meanwhile, community members said they were shocked at some of the allegations in the video.
Jason McBride is a secondary violence prevention specialist with the Struggle of Love Foundation, an organization providing mentorship and access to mental health for youth in Denver. He said police aren’t going anywhere, which requires the community — especially people of color — to develop a relationship with law enforcement.
“We want to use police as a last resort and if there’s violence, there needs to be police intervention,” McBride said.
“The fractured relationship we have with them now we have to repair because we need the police in our community,” McBride added.
FOX31 has reached out to the creators of this video but have yet to get a response.
“What people need to understand is that this is not an intentional effort and this is a mistake that happened and we’re sorry that it happened,” Pribble told FOX31.