Law enforcement unions are strongly criticizing the Binghamton City School District for allowing a controversial book to be read to MacArthur Elementary students.

A video of a teacher reading from "Something Happened in Our Town" appeared on YouTube for several days. The recording was removed on Friday after word spread on social media.

The April "Book of the Month" is recommended by the publisher for children between four and eight years old.

One passage includes a conversation in which a girl suggests a person was shot by a police officer "because he's Black." Another character in the book indicates police officers "don't like black men."

The Binghamton Police Benevolent Association issued a statement Monday concluding "there is a blatant anti-police message portrayed in the book."

Joshua Nytch, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Southern Tier Lodge said "we find this disgusting and hypocritical." He said the "anti-police narrative" pushed by the teacher is "reprehensible."

The school district administration released an unsigned statement indicating the book was used "to promote inclusion and anti-racism."

The statement expressed "support and respect" for the "brave police officers that protect our community."

The statement also said "we apologize for the negative light this has shined on their profession and commitment to our safety."

City school superintendent Tonia Thompson and Binghamton police chief Joseph Zikuski could not be reached for comment on the book controversy.

The video below features a reading of "Something Happened in Our Town." It was posted to YouTube in May 2020.

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Contact WNBF News reporter Bob Joseph: bob@wnbf.com or (607) 772-8400 extension 233.

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