Portland Film Center Cancels 'Kindergarten Cop' Screening Over Positive Portrayal of Police

Local author compared Schwarzenegger film to 'The Birth of a Nation'

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August 4, 2020

A film center in Portland canceled its screening of Kindergarten Cop after a local author complained about the movie’s portrayal of police in schools and compared it to The Birth of a Nation, a 1915 film that romanticized the Ku Klux Klan.

Northwest Film Center, an organization supporting local filmmakers, had planned to show Kindergarten Cop as the first movie in its summertime drive-in movie series until author Lois Leveen said a movie showing cops in schools wasn’t "entertaining."

"There’s nothing entertaining about the presence of police in schools," Leveen tweeted. "5- 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."

Leveen said the 1990 action-comedy film was not family-appropriate because it "romanticizes over-policing."

"Yes, 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,’" Leveen tweeted. "They are relics of how pop culture feeds racist assumptions. KINDERGARTEN COP romanticizes over-policing in the U.S."

The film center originally chose to screen Kindergarten Cop, which was filmed in Astoria, Oregon, to celebrate the state’s filmmaking history and the 30th anniversary of the movie’s release.

In the film, actor Arnold Schwarzenegger portrays a police officer who goes undercover as a kindergarten teacher to nab a drug dealer.

In response to Leveen's criticisms, Northwest Film Center said they would instead show John Lewis: Good Trouble to honor the former congressman and civil-rights activist who died in July.

This summer, anti-police protesters and activists have pushed for reforming and defunding the police. Some, including the leftist Black Lives Matter organization, have called for removing police officers from schools.

Published under: Police , Portland