Half of U.S. Commission on Civil Rights pen letter to U.S. AG over targeting of parents

Four of the eight members of the U.S Commission on Civil Rights have sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland over his recent memorandum targeting parents protesting their school boards.

Garland’s memorandum is vague both on details related to “training” school personnel and includes zero details of the alleged “threats” that are the basis for his action. The memorandum also makes reference to a future announcement that will include “a series of measures designed to address the rise in criminal conduct directed towards 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,” Garland wrote in the Oct. 4 memorandum. “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.”

Concerned about the direction of the memorandum, four members of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (USCCR) sent a letter to Garland requesting more information.

Your memorandum did not cite any specific examples of “harassment, intimidation and threats of violence” that would provide any basis for law enforcement action by the Department,” reads the USCCR letter. “We are concerned that much of what the NSBA calls threats and acts of intimidation—and compares to “domestic terrorism and hate crimes”—can be merely classified as political speech.”

The letter later reiterates its questioning of the basis for the memorandum and why federal law enforcement is necessary and pointing out the connection to the National School Board Association’s attempt to label protesting parents as “domestic terrorists.

“We have combed the internet for signs that parents petitioning school boards are anything approaching a national problem. Nearly all of what we have seen so far makes us proud to be Americans: Parents care about the education of their children, and they are not willing to allow them to be indoctrinated into a radical ideology,” the USCCR members wrote.

“It is always possible that a few of these parents have gotten out of hand and made threats that they should not have. If so, law enforcement is entirely appropriate,” the letter continued. “But is there evidence that local law enforcement is not up to the job? Why is federal intervention needed here and not in the thousands of other unrelated cases of overheated exchanges that occur regularly across the country? Why does this case call for federal intervention? Is it surprising to you that concerned parents across the country view your memorandum as an endorsement of the [National School Boards Association]’s description of their protests as comparable to ‘domestic terrorism’?”

Given the free speech implications of Garland’s memorandum and that he includes almost no detail or examples of alleged “threats,” and given the mission of the USCCR, one has to wonder why the other four commission members didn’t add their names to the letter.

In the last week, both state and national-level elected officials in North Carolina have reacted to Garland’s intended use of the FBI to essentially police protesting parents and school board meetings.

“When rioters set fire to buildings, looted stores, and laid siege to a federal courthouse last summer, we were told over and over that the ‘mostly peaceful protests’ were a necessary racial reckoning and actually good for public health,” Berger wrote in an Oct. 6 Facebook post. “When parents show up at school board meetings in actual, real peaceful protests over concerns about policies impacting their own children, the media and the teachers’ unions demand the FBI start investigating.

About A.P. Dillon

A.P. Dillon is a freelance journalist and is currently writing at The North State Journal. She resides in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_
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