The three far-right wing candidates for District 51 School Board backed by the extremist group “Stand for the Constitution” — Angela Lema, Willie Jones and Andrea Haitz — together sent out a fundraising email today, titled “It’s Time to Get Politics Out of the Classroom,” aimed at generating anger towards the U.S. Department of Justice to raise money to help get them onto the school board.
The email’s subject line screams:
“The DOJ is coming after parents!”
The message directs readers to a Fox News story from 10/5 that infers the DOJ is criminalizing parents who attend school board meetings by equating them with domestic terrorists. The email says FBI chief Christopher Wray and federal prosecutors are “comparing parents who express their concerns about their kids’ education to the School Board and educators as acts of ‘DOMESTIC TERRORISM‘,” and says,
“We’ve had enough! The attack on parents has to stop!”
The three candidates are intentionally misrepresenting a recent chain of recent events to generate donations.
First, on September 29, the the National School Boards Association (NSBA) wrote (pdf) to President Biden asking for help from federal law enforcement agencies “to deal with the growing number of threats of violence and acts of intimidation [towards school board members] occurring across the nation” in response to school board policies aimed at protecting kids from Coronavirus, like requiring masks in schools. The group said false propaganda about critical race theory is also a factor in generating threats and intimidation against school board members nationally. The NSBA wrote:
“…many public school officials are also facing physical threats because of propaganda purporting the false inclusion of critical race theory within classroom instruction and curricula. This propaganda continues despite the fact that critical race theory is not taught in public schools and remains a complex law school and graduate school subject well beyond the scope of a K-12 class.”
The NSBA asked for help from federal law enforcement agencies to gauge “the level of risk [of these threats] to public schoolchildren, educators, board members, and facilities/campuses,” and also asked the U.S. Postal Inspection Service “to intervene against threatening letters and cyberbullying attacks that have been transmitted to students, school board members, district administrators, and other educators.”
Then in response, the Justice Department issued a memo October 5 agreeing to assist school boards in how to recognize and react to true threats of violence, and how to report violent threats towards school board members, students and public school workers to the FBI’s National Threat Operations Center via its national tip line (1-800-CALL-FBI) and online through the FBI website (http://fbi.gov/tips).
Instead of appreciating the government taking steps to help protect school board members from threats of violence and intimidation from extremists, the Stand for the Constitution candidates are twisting these efforts in a way that portrays parents of local school kids as victims.
Threats of violence toward school board members have been ramping up throughout the country.
Across the country in recent months, school board meetings have been disrupted by protesters objecting to mask requirements, and requiring meetings to end early due to bad behavior by parents and misguided outbursts over critical race theory.
Grand Junction has also experienced a slew of threats and intimidation towards school board members. The August 17, 2021 District 51 School Board meeting was disrupted by ill-behaved members of the audience who started shouting anti-vaccination and anti-mask comments at School Board members, and calling for D-51 Superintendent Diana Sirko to resign. One parent demanded Dr. Sirko be arrested. The meeting ultimately became so raucous that the Grand Junction Police were called to escort frightened school board members to their vehicles.
Stand for the Constitution is stirring up anger, trouble, threats, intimidation for the community
Anti-mask and anti-vaccination sentiments are the purview of members of “Stand for the Constitution,” the same far right wing extremist group that recently threatened “holy war” and “civil war” if the County Commissioners don’t do what they want and declare Mesa County a “constitutional sanctuary,” where state and federal laws don’t apply. Stand for the Constitution members have been ginning up anger towards the D-51 School Board over topics like Covid vaccines, CDC-recommended masking guidelines, and their wild misunderstanding of what critical race theory is, and where it is taught.
Stand for the Constitution is also the group that has been organizing health care workers to oppose local hospitals’ vaccine mandates for their employees. The mandates are an effort to keep patients from contracting Covid-19 from hospital employees. They have also been vocal supporters of rogue Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters, who is currently under criminal investigation for allegedly compromising the security of Mesa County’s voting equipment by facilitating actions that got the confidential passwords to them posted on a QAnon-style, right wing election conspiracy website.
The fundraising email asks for a minimum donations of $100, to “make a stand [sic] against this attack on parents.”