If you see a tattooed person speaking Arabic, you might want to call police.
That's the message an HISD police officer told a group of parents at Eastwood Academy Thursday morning during a bizarre discussion about prison gangs and school safety, according to a flabbergasted parent.
Christie Hammond told the Houston Press that the officer, who'd been invited to speak at the school's monthly "Coffee With the Principal" meeting, said he wanted to allay parents' concerns about student safety in the wake of the San Bernardino shootings.
According to information provided by an HISD spokeswoman, the officer presented a slideshow put together by Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputy John Williams regarding "Radical Islamist Tattoos." Here's what the second slide looks like:
So, there's that.
Here's the next slide:
Couple things here. One, this is a slideshow for law enforcement personnel. Two, Williams could not even be bothered to find actual translations of the tattoos that the slideshow is about to describe as "radical." Three, what in the world does this have to do with the Houston Independent School District?
Then there's this:
We think the lesson to be learned here is: keep your eyes peeled for any bare-chested dudes with the word "Jihad" printed in large letters on their back. Thank God for this presentation — the subtlety may have otherwise been lost on those Eastwood parents.
"Freedom or Death," or possibly "I proclaim your will," or possibly, "I heart pancakes" — we'll just never know for sure. But the other lesson to be learned here is that you should only be freaked out by a dude with a gigantic M-16 tat on his forearm if the gun also features the Hezbollah flag. No Hezbollah flag, no problem.
Hammond also recalled the HISD officer saying something like, "You know, if you're ever walking down the street and you see someone with tattoos, and you hear them speaking Arabic, you might want to call the police, because...these people are out to get you, they want to harm you, and you have to be careful."
She added, "Everything that came out of his mouth was so hateful and so [inciting]....I was so angry, I was shaking."
Hammond said she stood up and said the presentation amounted to profiling, but the officer never acknowledged her.
According to HISD's website, district-wide, "Arabic is the second most common foreign language spoken at home." HISD also launched what it claims is the first Arab language immersion school this year. (Depending on the number of tattoos involved, police could be looking at a huge increase in phone calls.)
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When a friend of Hammond's tweeted Eastwood about the content of the presentation, the school replied with: "We had a guest speaker today who was speaking on the topic of safety. His remarks are his own and do not represent Eastwood's." Also: "We embrace all guests & apologize if anything said on his behalf was offensive."
In a statement to the Press, HISD Spokeswoman Holly Huffman wrote: "HISD prides itself on being a diverse school district that welcomes families from all backgrounds. The officer in question was giving a presentation on school safety when he made a culturally insensitive comment. He has since been counseled, and the issue is being handled as a personnel matter."
We're not sure what a Los Angeles County Sheriff's Office slideshow about prison gangs has to do with "school safety," but there you go.
We also asked if Huffman could confirm or deny if the officer actually suggested that parents call police if they encounter a tattooed person speaking Arabic, but we haven't heard back.