Portland Summer Drive-In Fest Flunks ‘Kindergarten Cop’ After “Overpolicing” Complaint

Greg Evans
·3 min read

A Portland, Oregon, cinema center’s summer drive-in movie series has pulled a screening of the 1990 Arnold Schwarzenegger comedy Kindergarten Cop after some community and staff members complained that the film is out of step with local and national concerns about overpolicing.

Kindergarten Cop will be replaced at the Northwest Film Center’s Cinema Unbound Drive-in Theater on August 6 with a second screening of John Lewis: Good Trouble, the new documentary about the late civil rights icon. A previously scheduled August 7 screening of Good Trouble is sold out.

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The rescheduling comes after a tweet Saturday by Portland author Lois Leveen, who wrote, “National reckoning on overpolicing is a weird time to revive Kindergarten Cop. IRL, we are trying to end the school-to-prison pipeline. 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.”

Leveen has since made her Twitter account private.

Portland has been the site of daily protests since the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 28, and in July federal officers swarmed the city in President Donald Trump’s controversial tactic to squelch the gatherings.

In response to Leveen’s tweet, the NW Film Center tweeted, “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.”

Ivan Reitman’s Kindergarten Cop had initially been chosen to open the summer outdoor series due to its Oregon filming locations.

Leveen followed up her tweet with a letter to local newspaper Willamette Week, writing, “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. Because despite what the movie shows, in reality, schools don’t transform cops. Cops transform schools, and in an extremely detrimental way.”

In the 1990 comedy, Schwarzenegger plays a detective who goes undercover as a kindergarten teacher to catch a drug kingpin.

Other films planned for the Drive-In series are Moonlight, Milk, Fast Times At Ridgemont High, The Creature of the Black Lagoon, The Birds, Xanadu and Lost In Translation.

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