The office of Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis condemned the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) plans Tuesday to have the FBI coordinate with local law enforcement to deal with intimidation and threats to school board members.
“Governor DeSantis condemns any attempt by the federal government to silence free speech. It is despicable and anti-American,” the statement said.
Attorney General Merrick Garland directed the FBI to partner with leaders in each federal judicial district to discuss strategies for addressing threats against school administrators, board members, and employees in an Oct. 4 memo.
The National School Boards Association (NSBA) urged federal law enforcement to respond to intimidation and threats regarding school masking policies and critical race theory in a Sept. 29 letter.
Attorney General Garland is weaponizing the DOJ by using the FBI to pursue concerned parents and silence them through intimidation.
Florida will defend the free speech rights of its citizens and will not allow federal agents to squelch dissent.
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) October 5, 2021
“The [NSBA] letter ignores the fact that liberal activists who support CRT and forced masking have been disrupting school board meetings, harassing elected officials they disagree with, and threatening conservative school board members,” Gov. DeSantis’ press secretary Christina Pushaw stated.
Pushaw explained that harassment, assault and credible threats of violence are all crimes in the state. “Florida law enforcement is perfectly capable of responding to crimes in Florida, and we have never heard the FBI suggest otherwise,” she said.
Several sources, including Christina Pushaw, expressed concern about the White House politicizing federal law enforcement to silence dissent. (RELATED: School District Awarded Millions In Funding After Adopting A Policy That Prohibits Critical Race Theory)
Garland’s memo violates civil rights law and runs afoul with Supreme Court precedent, which protests harsh and caustic criticism against political figures, according to Jeff Childers, an Alachua County attorney who has been involved in legally ensuring parental choice for in-school masking. The memo also violates civil rights law by restraining protected political speech beyond threats of violence, according to Childers.
“The attempt and organized effort led by the NSBA – a publicly funded lobbying organization- to limit public access and public comment has failed. And instead of elected board members addressing the concerns of their constituents, they have chosen intimidation tactics,” Bridgett Ziegler, a Sarasota County School Board member, told the Daily Caller.
The day before Biden’s DOJ announced its plans to review the intimidation of school board members as possible domestic terrorism, Democratic Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema was followed into a bathroom by protesters who filmed her even as she closed the stall door. When asked about the incident, President Joe Biden laughed and said that while the tactics were inappropriate, it “happens to everybody” and is “all part of the process,” the New York Post reported.