The National School Boards Association petitioned the White House last week to leverage the full weight and authority of the federal government against parents who oppose mask mandates and the teaching of critical race theory.
On Monday, the Justice Department answered the call, announcing it will use its considerable powers and resources to investigate and possibly prosecute parents and community activists who’ve criticized or threatened school officials.
“In the coming days,” U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland announced in a statement, “the Department will announce a series of measures designed to address the rise in criminal conduct directed toward school personnel. Coordination and partnership with local law enforcement is critical to implementing these measures for the benefit of our nation’s nearly 14,000 public school districts.”
The nation’s top law enforcement officer added, “To this end, I am directing the Federal Bureau of Investigation, working with each United States Attorney, to convene meetings with federal, state, local, Tribal, and territorial leaders in each federal judicial district within 30 days of the issuance of this memorandum. These meetings will facilitate the discussion of strategies for addressing threats against school administrators, board members, teachers, and staff, and will open dedicated lines of communication for threat reporting, assessment, and response.”
Though Garland declined to specify which incidents merit intervention at the federal level, the National School Boards Association in its letter last week to the White House included a list of “threats and acts of violence” suffered recently by school board officials. Garland presumably based his assessment on this list, which reads as follows :
An individual was arrested in Illinois for aggravated battery and disorderly conduct during a school board meeting. During two separate school board meetings in Michigan, an individual yelled a Nazi salute in protest to masking requirements, and another individual prompted the board to calla recess because of opposition to critical race theory.
In New Jersey, Ohio, and other states, anti-mask proponents are inciting chaos during board meetings. In Virginia, an individual was arrested, another man was ticketed for trespassing, and a third person was hurt during a school board meeting discussion distinguishing current curricula from critical race theory and regarding equity issues. In other states including Washington, Texas, Wisconsin, Wyoming, and Tennessee, school boards have been confronted by angry mobs and forced to end meetings abruptly. A resident in Alabama, who proclaimed himself as “vaccine police,” has called school administrators while filming himself on Facebook Live.
Other groups are posting watch lists against school boards and spreading misinformation that boards are adopting critical race theory curriculum and working to maintain online learning by haphazardly attributing it to COVID-19. In Ohio, an individual mailed a letter to a school board member labeling the return address on the envelope from a local neighborhood association and then enclosing threatening hate mail from another entity. This correspondence states that, “We are coming after you and all the members on the … BoE [Board of Education].” This hate mail continues by stating, “You are forcing them to wear mask—for no reason in this world other than control. And for that you will pay dearly.” Among other incendiaries, this same threat also calls the school board member a “filthy traitor,” implies loss of pension funds, and labels the school board as Marxist. Earlier this month, a student in Tennessee was mocked during a board meeting for advocating masks in schools after testifying that his grandmother, who was an educator, died because of COVID-19.
Remember, the incidents mentioned in the above are supposed to represent the worst of the worst. The school board association clearly believes these are the most extreme examples of the “threats and acts of violence” directed at its members (otherwise, it wouldn’t have highlighted them in a letter to the president). That the association believes incidents such as a man labeling a school board as “Marxist” require direct action by the DOJ and the FBI is laughable. That the DOJ agrees is deeply disturbing.
Seriously, though, look at the examples provided by the school board association and tell me which ones require intervention by the federal law enforcement apparatus. The sarcastic Nazi salute? A man filming himself while calling school administrators? A student being mocked by attendees at a school board meeting?
To say this is an overreaction by the DOJ and the FBI is an understatement.
This is an obvious abuse of power on Garland’s part, even if it’s just a little saber-rattling meant to scare off irate parents and activists. If the attorney general is, in fact, merely flexing his muscles as a warning, it’s still tantamount to a sheriff pointing his gun at a group of demonstrators with no intention of using it. It’s still an abuse of authority and power, one that is meant to cow and suppress legitimate public protest, even if he doesn’t intend to pull the trigger. Moreover, we have no reason to believe Garland’s announcement is merely a scare tactic with no actual teeth. The federal government clearly is not above political targeting. Indeed, after everything we’ve seen from the weaponization of the IRS to the CIA spying on the U.S. Senate (and then lying about it ) to intelligence chiefs skating on perjury and other felony charges , there’s no reason to believe the DOJ won’t abuse its power in service of punishing the targets provided by the school board association.
The incidents outlined in the above are local police matters. Nothing the school board association listed in its letter requires a response of this size and magnitude (or a response at all) from federal law enforcement agencies.
But you try telling this to the DOJ.
“While spirited debate about policy matters is protected under our Constitution,” Garland said this week, “that protection does not extend to threats of violence or efforts to intimidate individuals based on their views. Threats against public servants are not only illegal, they run counter to our nation’s core values.”
He added, “The Department takes these incidents seriously and is committed to using its authority and resources to discourage these threats, identify them when they occur, and prosecute them when appropriate.”
Garland concluded by noting his department is committed to protecting “all people” from “intimidation and harassment.”
Well, everyone, that is, except for parents and activists who oppose mask mandates and the teaching of critical race theory. They just received a threatening letter this week from the DOJ.
Source: Washington Examiner : Justice Department to investigate anti-mask, anti-critical race theory parents
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