The National School Boards Association (NSBA) last week begged President Joe Biden to use domestic terrorism laws to target parent protesters who oppose anti-science mask mandates for children and the infiltration of racist curriculum in schools. But the incidents the group listed as proof that “immediate assistance is required to protect our students, school board members, and educators who are susceptible to acts of violence affecting interstate commerce because of threats to their districts, families, and personal safety,” are hardly worth the involvement of federal law enforcement.
In the letter to the Biden administration, the NSBA listed out pages of examples of what it classified as “immediate threats” to the people in and of public schools across the nation. But as Zaid Jilani points out in his Substack article “Rowdy Town Halls Aren’t ‘Domestic Terror,’” the NSBA’s written request for the U.S. Department of Justice, FBI, Department of Homeland Security, Secret Service, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service “to intervene against threatening letters and cyberbullying attacks” and label these “heinous actions” as “a form of domestic terrorism and hate crimes” is unnecessary.
One of the incidents raised by the NSBA occurred at the Marysville School Board meeting in Washington state where protesters against mask mandates for children “banged on windows” and yelled enough to force the gathering into a recess. A handful of the protesters reportedly “surrounded a district official’s car, preventing the driver from leaving” in what one article author characterized as “a violation of democratic principles, one with all-too-familiar overtones of the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.”
“One man made a satirical Nazi salute to protest a mask mandate for students at the Birmingham Board of Education. (It’s pretty obvious that the man was protesting what he believed to be authoritarianism and was not, in fact, a neo-Nazi. If you were alive during the Bush years, you saw a million progressive protesters doing similar stuff.)” Jilani wrote.
The NSBA also cited a case where local law enforcement in Norfolk, Virginia, was already reviewing a series of social media threats. The kicker is “the threats appear to be related to typical school violence.”
“The local news has been reporting on this story notes that one teenager recently shot two others at a Virginia high school, an incident that had nothing to do with conservative mobs terrorizing school boards,” Jilani said.
Jilani noted that some of the incidents listed do “include some type of actual physical confrontation” and a couple of arrests, but “none of this even comes close to terrorism or other crimes that would justify the involvement of the FBI, DHS, and DOJ as well as federal prosecutions.”
“Local police have all the resources they need to handle a few disruptive parents,” he wrote.
Despite the weak case NSBA presented for federal involvement, Attorney General Merrick Garland directed the FBI and state attorneys to address “a disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence against school administrators, board members, teachers, and staff who participate in the vital work of running our nation’s public schools.”
On Wednesday, the Associated Press amplified the NSBA’s claims with a false “fact check” simply restating the organization’s intentions to use the Biden administration’s prosecution and law enforcement power to curb parents’ protests.