(The Center Square) – Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has said that a US Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation into a “worrying spike” in threats against school boards nationwide is designed to intimidate ” worried parents ”.
“Attorney General Garland is arming the DOJ by using the FBI to prosecute concerned parents and silence them through bullying,” DeSantis tweeted Tuesday. “Florida will defend the free speech rights of its citizens and will not allow federal agents to suppress dissent. “
The order, issued Monday by United States Attorney General Merrick Garland, followed a call by the National School Boards Association (NSBA) for federal action to address threats of violence and harassment against members of the school boards, administrators and teachers since the COVID-19 pandemic has turned school districts in many states – including Florida – into battlegrounds for mask warrants and other pandemic protocols.
School boards, administrators and educators are under “immediate threat” to deal with the pandemic and have provoked a backlash against the “false inclusion” of critical race theory into the curriculum, the school warned. NSBA in a September 29 press release. letter to President Joe Biden.
In a monday memorandum to FBI Director Christopher Wray and federal prosecutors, Garland said he will meet with federal, state and local leaders to discuss strategies over the next 30 days and that the DOJ will create a training guide “to help members of the school board to understand, report and preserve evidence of a threat.
“Threats against public officials are not only illegal, they go against our country’s core values,” Garland wrote. “Those who devote their time and energy to ensuring that our children receive an appropriate education in a safe environment deserve to be able to do their jobs without fear for their safety. “
Federal agencies will also be deploying a “series of additional efforts,” including a federal task force, in the coming days, Garland said.
In a statement Tuesday to Fox News, DeSantis press secretary Christina Pushaw said he was unsure how DeSantis would challenge Garland’s order to defend “free speech rights. “, Other than to monitor its implementation to” protect the rights of Floridians against government excesses and inappropriate abuses. ” politicization of federal law enforcement.
While the governor is squarely in the parents’ corner, not all parents are in the same corner when it comes to hiding warrants and other enforced protocols. DeSantis maintains that parental choice is paramount, regardless of that choice.
“Several Florida school board members, including Democrats and Republicans, have reported receiving threats and harassment from activists on both sides of the political spectrum,” Pushaw said. “This is not true, and anyone who is a victim of a crime should report it to their local police department. Florida law enforcement is perfectly capable of responding to crimes in Florida, and we have never heard the FBI suggest otherwise.
“However,” she continued, “disagreement is not harassment. Protest is not terrorism, unless it is riots, looting and assaults, like some of the left-wing protests of the summer of 2020. Again, all of these actions are crimes in Florida and will be prosecuted regardless of the political context. Governor DeSantis condemns any attempt by the federal government to silence the freedom of This expression is contemptible and anti-American.
Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, the only statewide elected Democrat and party endorsement candidate to challenge DeSantis in 2024, said Floridians are tired of being “embarrassed” by their governor.
“Attorney General Garland uses law and order to protect children, parents and teachers from crime,” Fried said. “Florida will continue to be embarrassed by Governor DeSantis and his disregard for the law and the safety of our children.”