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Writers Against Racism: Police Confrontation Press Conference Lesson Plan

There are two sides to every story. Right?

“People are denying the plight of poor people, the plight of people of color, the plight of anybody that’s different that comes in contact with law enforcement. A change needs to happen.” (by Tim Haeck via


“When an officer has been assaulted, we are taught that a strike is very often a reasonable and necessary thing to do.” (by Chris Sullivan via My

The Writers Against Racism series was best summarized recently by author Kelly Starling Lyons in a comment over at Nilki’s, musings blog:

Kelly said…

“Thank you [for] featuring Amy! So important to connect children with literature that reflects their lives, experiences and history. Amy is a champion dedicated to making this happen. She’s creating reading lists, shining a light on under-appreciated authors and books,  featuring stories that often go untold. Her W.A.R. series is moving, poignant, sobering and enlightening. Cheers to Amy, Zetta Elliott and George E. Stanley for spread-heading this crucial movement.”

 So consider this Police Confrontation Press Conference Lesson Plan as part of the greater movement of stories that could go untold, if they are not discussed in student forums.


Full disclosure and admitting my own bias:

I remember being slapped in the face when I was in 8th grade by a schoolyard bully who had heard rumors that I was “talking about him.” Needless to say, it wasn’t pretty and what I remember most – after the slap – was bright lights.

Fast forward to today

After watching the footage of the Seattle police officer altercation, whereby, after attempts to handle a  confrontational teenager, he’s seen – on video – punching her in the face. Anyway, I couldn’t help but reflect on what it’s like to get hit – in the face! 

Was she combative? Yes. Was it right? With my own bias involved, I will not answer the question. I will, however, let my broadcast journalism students decide, in September, after we explore how to  handle a press conference.

What questions need to be asked?

 What do you hope to accomplish by your line of questioning?

 How did you prepare for this press conference? Lay out your research plans: Who will you interview? What statistics can you present during the presser?


First identify Ms. Bowllan’s bias and how it could impact a story being covered. 


Dear students,

[pretend] you’ve been invited to attend the following press conference which involves a police officer striking – subduing (you judge) a confrontational teenager, who happens to be an African American girl.  After viewing the incident (which was videotaped by a bystander’s cell phone), watch the press conference.

1) Pretend you are present at the press conference, prepare three questions for the Seattle police representative.

2) Write a short essay as to what you saw unfold, and trade your writings with a partner (discuss).

3) What are the counter arguments that could be addressed in the press conference? Do you agree? If so, why or why not?

NAACP, Seattle police react to controversial  video

Shocking!!! The cop-video “girls” aren’t little angels


  1. Monica Hayes says:

    Amy, great job. Young people need to do the critical thinking involved in identifying their own feelings and responses to situations. Would that more educators availed themselves of the opportunity to help students figure things out, learn the difficulties involved in good decisions, and the best steps to take to ensure better steps to decision-making. This cop was in a professional capacity. What are the lessons learned. Similar to out of control parents who go after their kids. Our kids have so few heroes and heroines. You my love are well on your way to heroism. Love you.