Four of the eight members of the United States Civil Rights Commission wrote a letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, berating him for his recent memo regarding parents protesting school boards.
“We are writing to express our concerns about a recent memorandum issued by your office,” the four members wrote in the letter, questioning Garland’s motive for publishing the. note who tasked the FBI with leading a task force to deal with threats against school officials, including creating a centralized means of reporting these threats.
The members who signed the letter are Commissioners Peter Kirsanow, J. Christian Adams, Gail Heriot and Stephen Gilchrist.
“Your memorandum did not cite any specific example of” harassment, intimidation and threats of violence “that would provide a basis for law enforcement action by the department,” the letter read. “We are concerned that much of what the NSBA calls threats and intimidation – and compares to ‘domestic terrorism and hate crimes’ – may simply be classified as political speech.”
THE FLORIDA SCHOOL BOARDS ASSOCIATION DECLINES THE CALL OF THE NATIONAL GROUP FOR THE INVOLVEMENT OF THE FEDERAL IN THE PROTESTS OF THE PARENTS
Providing examples of political speech, members insisted that “a parent affected by the politics of a local school board can portend an election challenge against an outgoing school board member,” adding that such a decision “Would be fully consistent with the rights of the parent under the First Amendment and well without the jurisdiction of the Department as a federal law enforcement agency.”
“We have searched the internet for signs that parents presenting petitions to school boards are a national problem,” the members continued in the letter. “Almost everything we’ve seen so far makes us proud to be Americans: Parents care about their children’s education, and they’re unwilling to let them brainwash into a radical ideology.”
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Members also concluded that if “a few of these parents have gotten out of hand and made threats” then local law enforcement is “very appropriate” to deal with the situation. Members also asked Garland if he was surprised that “worried parents across the country are seeing [his] memorandum as an endorsement of the NSBA’s description of their protests as comparable to “domestic terrorism”.
Members closed the letter by asking Garland to provide “specific examples” of “harassment, intimidation and threats of violence” that Garland said demonstrate the need for federal intervention.
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Garland’s memo came shortly after the National School Boards Association (NSBA) sent a letter to President Biden saying some rhetorical clashes between school boards and parents could amount to “domestic terrorism.” . The letter from the NSBA invoked the Patriot Act, which Congress passed to combat terrorism in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.