The Biden administration announced that the Department of Justice will discourage, identify, and prosecute parents “when necessary” for opposing mask mandates and critical race theory, citing “threats of violence.”
Attorney General Merrick Garland directed the FBI and U.S. attorney’s offices to mobilize against parents that oppose these policies, citing that the federal government will “determine how federal enforcement tools can be used to prosecute these crimes.”
“Threats against public servants are not only illegal, they run counter to our nation’s core values,” Garland said with a statement on Oct. 4. “Those who dedicate their time and energy to ensuring that our children receive a proper education in a safe environment deserve to be able to do their work without fear for their safety.”
Curiously, the move came just five days after the National Association of School Boards (NASB) sent a letter to Joe Biden claiming that “America’s public schools and its education leaders are under an immediate threat.”
The NASB described the “heinous actions” against school officials as “a form of domestic terrorism” and “hate crimes.” The group urged the Biden administration to consider its powers under the Patriot Act, the extensive surveillance legislation passed after the September 11 attacks, to pursue parents.
Critics argue that the Garland’s order attacks parental rights and prohibits them from exercising their First Amendment rights to speak out against their schools’ “woke” policies.
Asra Nomani, a mom and the vice president of investigations and strategy at Parents Defending Education, tweeted that there is a serious problem of classifying parents as “domestic terrorists.”
Gov. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., vowed to fight back against Garland’s order to silence and prosecute parents, tweeting that “Florida will defend the free speech rights of its citizens and will not allow federal agents to squelch dissent.”
Videos of angry parents protesting their schools’ board members over mask mandates and critical race theory policies have been a common occurrence over the past several months.
In Loudoun County, Virginia, parents attended a school board meeting to speak out against critical race theory being taught in schools. The school board abruptly left the meeting and the county’s sheriff declared the meeting an unlawful assembly, telling everyone to leave or be arrested.
During an August school board meeting in Palm Beach, Fla., a man was arrested for not wearing a face mask while trying to speak to the board during a special meeting. In Brevard County, Florida, two residents were arrested for not wearing a mask while trying to enter a school board meeting.
Similar situations happened in San Antonio, Texas, where a woman was physically carried from a room by two officers after refusing to comply with a mask mandate during a school board meeting. Two parents were arrested by police trying to enter a school board meeting on mask mandates in Round Rock, Texas.
According to Garland, specialized training will be made available for school boards and officials to help them recognize behaviors that they believe are threatening, as well as helping them to report incidents to law enforcement for prosecution.