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Anti-vax protesters force Portland school board meeting online after they refuse to wear masks

Members of an Oregon school board were forced to flee their headquarters and hold a public meeting online to discuss a vaccine mandate for students 12 years and older after about 100 anti-vax protesters crashed the session and refused to wear masks. 

The flareup comes as tensions rise at school board meetings around the country over topics like critical race theory, coronavirus precautions and transgender bathroom policies.  

Attorney General Merrick Garland has promised more law enforcement resources to address the increasing threats targeting school board members, teachers and other employees in the nation’s public schools – a directive that has sparked outrage from parents and Republican politicians who fear a crack down on free speech and personal rights. 

The in-person Portland Public Schools board meeting was suspended on Tuesday after sign-wielding, anti-vax protesters refused to comply with the requirement that masks be worn inside the district headquarters building.   

A Proud Boy Chris Tough (pictured) in attendance yelled  ‘You’re all cowards!’ at the board members

A woman attending a Portland Public Schools (PPS) School Board meeting is surrounded by anti-vax signs

A woman attending a Portland Public Schools (PPS) School Board meeting is surrounded by anti-vax signs 

Anti-vax protestors pictured at a Portland Public Schools (PPS) School Board meeting in Portland, Oregon on Tuesday

Anti-vax protestors pictured at a Portland Public Schools (PPS) School Board meeting in Portland, Oregon on Tuesday

Prior to the meeting, unmasked attendees were not allowed into the PPS district building because they refused to wear face coverings.  Others wearing masks who entered the building quickly ripped them off, which spurred PPS board chair Michelle DePass to warn attendees to mask up or else the meeting would come to an end, opb.org reported. 

‘I’d like to give everyone an opportunity to put a mask on, to protect staff, students, and all of us that are here,’ DePass said. ‘If we can’t get 100% compliance, I’ll adjourn the meeting in the next two minutes.’

When some attendees refused, the meeting was suspended, a decision that was met with anger and led to some people, including a Proud Boy in attendance named Chris Tough, to yell ‘You’re all cowards!’  at the board members, wweek.com reported.  

The meeting was reconvened online a short time later.  

Anti-vax protestors carried signs into the meeting including one that read 'I do not consent to your drug experiment- my child, my choice'

Anti-vax protestors carried signs into the meeting including one that read ‘I do not consent to your drug experiment- my child, my choice’ 

A masked up young girl attends the Portland Public Schools board meeting on Tuesday

A masked up young girl attends the Portland Public Schools board meeting on Tuesday

Attorney General Merrick Garland has come under fire over a directive the DOJ issued promising more law enforcement resources for schools at school board meetings

Attorney General Merrick Garland has come under fire over a directive the DOJ issued promising more law enforcement resources for schools at school board meetings

Clashes break out at school board meetings across America

The president of a California board of education was caught on mic swearing during a meeting this week after a parent raised concerns over mandates in response to Covid-19.

Marlys Davidson, who is the president of the Los Alamitos Unified School District Board of Education was picked up by a microphone cursing during the meeting.

Lauren Roupoli raised concerns over mandates placed on students requiring them to wear masks in class.

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A Minnesota school board chairwoman stirred outrage after she demanded that parents announce their home address if they want to speak at public meetings – the latest flashpoint in the ongoing battle over the right to question administrators about COVID restrictions, CRT curriculums or any other controversial topics.

Jodi Sapp, the chairwoman of the Mankato school board, opened the meeting on October 18 by telling parents they cannot ask any questions unless they revealed their home address, according to the now viral video.

‘Each speaker is asked to state his or her name and home address for the record. Failure to do so will result in an individual not being allowed to speak,’ Sapp read aloud.

The school board meeting was another outlet for outraged parents to express their thoughts on vaccine mandates, but it has also drawn the attention of far-right groups not affiliated with the parents. 

According to wweek.com a political group called ‘People’s Rights,’ founded by Idaho anti-government militant Ammon Bundy, sent out a massive email asking protesters to attend the meeting.

Of the nearly 100 protesters, some were from outside Portland and traveled from elsewhere in Oregon and Washington state, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported.  

However, many of the protesters who did attend were not affiliated with the group and many in attendance said they do not associate themselves with the far-right group, the paper reported. 

‘It’s about freedom of choice. In Oregon we have exemptions. We have philosophical, religious, medical exemptions,’ PPS parent Sonja Feintech told Fox 12. ‘That should be the end of it. There’s no reason why a school board should be mandating anything.’ 

But despite the clash of opinions from parents and protesters, students seemed to be on board with the vaccine mandate. 

Earlier in the day, about 500 students staged a walkout in favor of the proposed vaccine mandate and students who attended the meeting said the majority of their peers believe a vaccine mandate should be implemented. 

‘I wanted to make sure that the district knew that there is strong support for this,’ Grant High School senior Lillie Stewart said. ‘I haven’t personally heard any students that I actually go to school with who have verbally stated their opposition to a vaccine mandate.’  

The board is set to vote on the proposed mandate at its next meeting on November 2. 

The skirmish in Portland follows battles between school boards and parents from coast to coast.

The president of a California board of education was caught on mic swearing during a meeting this week after a parent raised concerns over mandates in response to Covid-19.

Marlys Davidson, who is the president of the Los Alamitos Unified School District Board of Education was picked up by a microphone cursing during the meeting.

Lauren Roupoli raised concerns over mandates placed on students requiring them to wear masks in class.

In Minnesota, school board chairwoman stirred outrage after she demanded that parents announce their home address if they want to speak at public meetings.

And in Loudon County, Virginia, the school board has come under fire for its handling of sexual attack in in a girls bathroom by a boy wearing a skirt.  

During a Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday Sen. Tom Cotton tore into AG Garland, telling him to ‘resign in disgrace,’ after questioning him over his directive to add more law enforcement resources for schools at school board meetings.

Cotton asked about a Loudoun County father who was dragged out of a school board meeting and arrested as he tried to tell the room his 15-year-old daughter had been raped by the boy dressed in a skirt at Stone Bridge High School in the girls’ bathroom. 

Scott Smith says Loudoun County schools went out of their way to protect the child – who he called ‘a sexual predator’.

Smith accused the school of covering up the incident to protect its new policy allowing students to use the bathroom they identify with.

The incident reportedly took place on May 28 and Scott was arrested on June 22.

Two months after the incident, the boy – who has not been named because he is a juvenile – was arrested for forced sodomy.

And in October, he was arrested again on different charges for allegedly assaulting a different girl, at a different school. He is now in a juvenile detention center.

The boy was charged with two counts of forcible sodomy for the May 28 attack and sexual battery for the October 6 attack, the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office said on Oct. 13. The Sheriff’s Office released the statement to clear up ‘misinformation’ regarding the case.

On Tuesday the boy was found guilty of forcible sodomy and forcible fellatio, and will return to court on November 15 for sentencing.

Scott and his wife Jessica Smith are now suing the county over the alleged attempted coverup.

‘Do you apologize to Scott Smith and his 15-year-old daughter, judge?’ Cotton asked Garland. Cotton said that controversy had prompted the DOJ’s stepping in.

Garland went on to say rape is ‘the most horrific crime I can imagine’ and that Scott is ‘entitled and protected by the First Amendment.’

‘This is shameful. Your testimony, your directive is shameful. Your performance is shameful,’ Cotton shot back. 

In his memo, Garland said there had been ‘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.’

Garland’s directive to the Justice Department came after the National School Boards Association, which represents school board members around the country, asked President Joe Biden for federal assistance to investigate and stop threats made over policies including mask mandates, likening the vitriol to a form of domestic terrorism.  


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