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Is AG Garland right to involve FBI in ‘threats’ against school board members?

Is AG Garland right to involve FBI in ‘threats’ against school board members?
Ken Cedeno / Reuters
WRITTEN BY
10/08/21
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Fact Box

  • Attorney General Merrick B. Garland is the 86th Attorney General of the United States sworn into office on March 11, 2021. He leads 115,500 employees of the Justice Department. 
  • On Monday, October 4, 2021, AG Garland asked the FBI to meet in regards to an alleged “increase in harassment, intimidation and threats of violence against school board members.” His memorandum includes plans to create multiple task forces and training services for school boards. 
  • Last week on Thursday, September 30, 2021, the National School Boards Association asked President Biden to address threats made to school board members over mask mandates. The organization noted over 20 instances of “threats, harassment, disruption, and acts of intimidation in California, Florida, Georgia, New Jersey, Ohio, and others.” 
  • An August 2021 AP/NORC poll reported that six in 10 American adults support mask mandates for students and teachers in school. 80% of Democrats support the mandates while only 30% of Republicans are in agreement.

Andrew (Yes)

The recent spate of threats, aggravated attacks, and general disorderly behavior toward school boards is a national trend that needs to be addressed by our national investigation service. While there may have been isolated incidents in the past, this level of hostility is altogether something new and has culminated in the National School Boards Association seeking help from the federal government. The FBI is needed to look into the root causes of these incidents across the nation in order to fully identify trends that are encouraging these behaviors. This way, they can put policies and actions into place to keep school board members safe and prevent their work from being disrupted.

It seems likely that much of this vitriol directed at local school board officials may stem from national figures engaging in culture wars to generate support. With people like former President Trump, Governor DeSantis, and others whipping up such a furor over masking, race relations, and other issues, it makes sense for a national investigative unit--which would have enough power to probe national figures--to take the lead in curbing this disturbing trend. Local or state forces simply don’t have the reach to investigate broad national trends.

Finally, using our best and brightest to scrutinize why there has been an increase in threats and actual violence against members of the public who are simply trying their best to keep kids safe and educated is the right thing to do. These individuals stand up for the next generation, quite literally the future; it’s only right we stand up for them.


Curtice (No)

Attorney General Merrick Garland’s recent memo to the FBI and federal prosecutors throughout the country concerning “threats of violence against school administrators, board members, teachers, and staff” is meant only to intimidate parents from exercising their First Amendment rights.

He knows there is little to no evidence of threats of violence coming from concerned parents who have been showing up at school board meetings. Rather, large numbers of parents have been attending school board meetings to strongly voice their concerns and displeasure with COVID-19-related restrictions and school curriculum that includes Critical Race Theory. 

As Merrick no doubt is well aware, there are plenty of Supreme Court precedents--as well as statutory law--about what does and does not constitute criminal incitement to violence. The bar is set extremely high, as it should be. The Bill of Rights, of which freedom of speech is the first, is not a grab bag of items where one is free to select what they want to abide by.

In fact, should a parent actually commit an act of violence against a school board member, that would most likely violate state law but not require any federal intervention.

The FBI recently admitted that it doesn’t even track Antifa as an organization, yet the Justice Department now wants it to go after parents for attending school board meetings. 

This is yet another transparent attempt by those on the Left to silence others who hold a contrary opinion to their own.

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