"It's true Kindergarten Cop is only a movie. So are Birth of a Nation and Gone With the Wind, but we recognize films like those are not 'good family fun.'"
An outdoor screening of Arnold Schwarzenegger's 1990 film "Kindergarten Cop" has been canceled in Portland, Oregon, amid complaints that there's "nothing entertaining about the presence of police in schools."
The NW Film Center originally planned to start a series of drive-in screenings with the film, which was shot in Astoria and chosen for "its importance in Oregon filmmaking history." But, shortly after the announcement and at least one local author's complaints, it was replaced with the John Lewis documentary, "Good Trouble."
Author Lois Leeven called out the film organization on Twitter for its choice, saying it was a "weird time" to screen the film amid a "national reckoning on overpolicing," referring to the Black Lives Matter Movement.
"IRL, we are trying to end the school-to-prison pipeline," she tweeted. "There's nothing entertaining about the presence of police in schools, which feeds the 'school-to-prison' pipeline in which African American, Latinx and other kids of color are criminalized rather than educated. Five- and 6-year-olds are handcuffed and hauled off to jail routinely in this country. And this criminalizing of children increases dramatically when cops are assigned to work in schools."
In the film, Arnold's John Kimble is a cop who goes undercover as a kindergarten teacher in Oregon, to try and nab a drug lord whose kid attends the school. During the process, he discovers his love of teaching and eventually changes his profession.
Leeven elaborated on her concerns in a message sent to Willamette Week titled, "Kindergarten Cop-Out: Why Does NW Film Center Think There's Anything Fun About Cops Traumatizing Schoolchildren."
In her message, she wrote, "It's true 'Kindergarten Cop' is only a movie. So are 'Birth of a Nation' and 'Gone With the Wind,' but we recognize films like those are not 'good family fun.' They are relics of how pop culture feeds racist assumptions."
She added, "Despite what the movie shows, in reality, schools don't transform cops. Cops transform schools, and in an extremely detrimental way."
The NW Film Center responded to her Twitter concerns, first thanking her for her feedback.
"Due to overwhelming demand, the Northwest Film Center has added a second showing of John Lewis: Good Trouble to the Cinema Unbound Drive-In at Zidell Yards," they continued, confirming the additional screening replaced "Kindergarten Cop."
"After discussion with staff and community members, however, we agreed that at this moment in history, 'John Lewis: Good Trouble' is the right film to open this year's Drive-In series," they added. "We are thrilled to be able to offer another opportunity to share this important story with an even larger audience."
Speaking to Willamette Week, the organization confirmed the decision was made in light of Leeven's concerns, as well as "a dozen others, including Black community members who asked us to consider opening the Drive-In with a different movie."
Following the film change, Leeven told WW she still wasn't thrilled. "When a white-dominant institution cannot honestly admit their error and insensitivity, it does not suggest they will avoid similar errors and insensitivities in the future," she said.