“At the direction of the Orange County Public Schools board of education chair, parents and members of the public were ejected from the Oct. 11 board meeting by Orange County sheriffs’ deputies.”
In a meeting of the Orange County, North Carolina Public Schools (OCPS), board chair Hillary Mackenzie repeatedly directed sheriff’s deputies to remove parents who spoke against a resolution supporting Black Lives Matter (BLM) and committing to anti-racism. The meeting, which took place October 11, became heated as Mackenzie, in apparent violation of OCPS policy, had speakers removed if they spoke in opposition to the resolution.
— Orange County GOP (@orange_gop) October 12, 2021
Parents and community members gathered in front of the school where the meeting took place to publicly protest. Additionally, many folks signed up to make comments during the public comment portion of the meeting agenda. State and local school board officials, as well as the county sheriff, cited the presence of the Proud Boys as justification for the removals. Calling the protesters white supremacists, they said the speech used in public comments amounted to violence, justifying their removal.
The North State Journal reported:
At the direction of the Orange County Public Schools board of education chair, parents and members of the public were ejected from the Oct. 11 board meeting by Orange County sheriffs’ deputies.
The reason? Apparently speaking about concerns and topics that were not on the meeting agenda.
Attendees were also subjected to metal detectors and told they could not congregate on the premises of A.L. Stanback Middle School where the meeting was being held.
Several times during the meeting, Mackenzie was heard to say, “you cannot talk on that topic,” before motioning for deputies to remove the person. Loud booing throughout the auditorium followed.
Orange County schools’ policy manual does not include language dictating what a speaker can or can’t talk about beyond barring discussion of personal information, student information or addressing a specific board member with a grievance. [emphasis added]
The more Mackenzie told speakers, “If you don’t speak about agenda items you will be asked to leave,” the louder the protests in the meeting room got. This caused Mackenzie to crack down even harder. Again, from the North State Journal:
Following additional yelling and gavel banging, another individual attempted to address curriculum, but the moment he uttered the words “racist behavior” Mackenzie intervened, saying she could “not let you speak on that,” while sending deputies to intercept him and walk him out.
Even when speakers attempted to address an item on the agenda, a resolution to “address harm caused to students by incidents of hostile and racist behavior,” Mackenzie gaveled them out of order and still had them escorted out by law enforcement.
WHEREAS, at recent Orange County Schools’ events and meetings of the Board of Education, there has a been a growing presence of white nationalist displays and intimidating behavior, including bigoted, misogynistic, racist, homophobic and transphobic language; and,
WHEREAS, the Orange County Schools community has been confronted with a planned and concerted effort to bully and intimidate students and their families, staff and board members, Black and Brown members of the community, and the LGBTQ+ community; and,
WHEREAS, emotional and psychological harm has been caused by this presence and collective behavior, harm which has been deepened by White people standing by and applauding, failing to intervene, or even failing to name the racist, bigoted, and threatening behavior;
It goes on for eleven more whereases, finally resolving:
RESOLVED, that the Orange County Schools Board of Education stands united against all forms of white nationalism and white supremacy; be it further
RESOLVED that the Orange County Schools Board of Education recognizes the phrase Black Lives Matter as an affirmation of the inherent value of the lives of our Black students, staff, and community members; be it further
RESOLVED that the district will create a detailed action and communication plan for future incidents involving hate groups in the OCS community, including a text alert system, as requested by students; be it further
RESOLVED that the district will make students and staff aware of counseling services available to them following events where they are targeted by hate groups, as requested by students; be it further
RESOLVED that OCS will provide ongoing education to staff members and students on how to recognize extremist symbols and tactics and what to do when they are recognized; be it further
RESOLVED that Orange County Schools will continue to have open and honest dialogue about how to best address the threat to student and staff safety when there is a presence of hate groups on property adjacent to or on school campuses; be it further
RESOLVED that the board stands in solidarity with our Indigenous, Black, Brown, LGBTQ+ students, staff and community members and will continue to name harm and stand against hate in our community.
Even when parents and community members attempted to address the offensive language of this resolution, the chair refused to let them continue, and had them escorted out by sheriff’s deputies. No proof of the claims in the resolution, such as “rising white supremacy,” was required; it has now become pubic record, a reference point for future unfounded claims that white nationalism runs rampant in America’s institutions.
Those deputies provided security at the request of the Board, following a previous meeting and protest in September in which parents protested mask mandates in schools and at sporting events. Chair Mackenzie again led the allegations of violence, according to reports:
“We have received some threatening language in public comment at meetings. I think some board members are definitely facing that through email and phone calls, and on social media as well.”
The board has increased security at meetings and is considering installing a metal detector, she said. MacKenzie said science will guide the board’s decision about mask-wearing. Still, she said board members have notified the sheriff’s office more than once. She confirmed board members have received death threats.
In anticipation of the October 11 meeting, Orange County Sheriff Charles Blackwood, a registered Democrat, posted on Facebook about his intentions to contain the planned protest:
It now appears more demonstrations are being planned, including one for tonight outside the Board of Education meeting at A.L. Stanback. If protesters assemble, they must gather off school grounds so as not to disrupt the business of the Board. The schools have once again hired off duty deputies to protect public safety, avoid disruption of the meeting, and maintain the free flow of traffic.Although I support people’s right to protest and demonstrate, I personally do not believe standing in the streets hurling hateful and intimidating insults at one another is a productive way to solve our issues. I submit civil dialogue is a better model to present to students who learn best by example. If adults can identify the issues, seek reasonable solutions, and communicate in a way that does not threaten public safety, we might actually get somewhere.
Jeff Reynolds is the author of the book, “Behind the Curtain: Inside the Network of Progressive Billionaires and Their Campaign to Undermine Democracy,” available at www.WhoOwnsTheDems.com. Jeff hosts a podcast at anchor.fm/BehindTheCurtain. You can follow him on Twitter @ChargerJeff, on Parler at @RealJeffReynolds, and on Gab at @RealJeffReynolds.
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