Democratic Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin compared parents shouting profanities and ripping off masks to Capitol Hill rioters during a Wednesday hearing.
Durbin opened the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing with Attorney General Merrick Garland by doubling down on language that even the National School Boards Association had walked back and suggesting that concerned parents were committing acts of domestic terror. (RELATED: ‘It’s A Challenge’: Dick Durbin Says Filibuster Flip-Flop Is Necessary To ‘Produce Something’)
“I invite the members of this committee, if you don’t believe me, type school board violence into your computer and take a look at what is happening,” Durbin began, reading off several examples of parents who had engaged in disruptive and in some cases violent behavior.
Durbin’s examples included parents who had shouted profanities at school board members, a parent who ripped the face mask off a Texas teacher and a few instances where parents had physically struck school board members or made additional threats.
“These are not routine people incensed or angry, these are people who are acting out their feelings in a violent manner, over and over again. The same people we see on airplanes and other places, some of whom we saw here on Jan. 6,” Durbin continued, noting that the NSBA had initially compared such instances to domestic terror in a letter requesting help from the Justice Department but then had walked back that language in a follow-up letter.
“So when you responded as quickly as you did to that school board request, did you have second thoughts after they sent a follow-up letter saying they didn’t agree with their original premise in the first letter?” Durbin asked, turning to Garland.
“I think all of us have seen these reports of violence and threats of violence. That is what the Justice Department is concerned about,” Garland replied, arguing that the language was less important than the potential threat of violence. “The letter that was subsequently sent does not change the association’s concern about violence or threats of violence. It alters some of the language in the letter. Language in the letter that we did not rely on and is not contained in my own memorandum. The only thing the Justice Department is concerned about is violence and threats of violence.”