Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis accused Attorney General Merrick Garland of “weaponizing” the Department of Justice by using the Federal Bureau of Investigation to intimidate and silence parents.
“Attorney General Garland is weaponizing the DOJ by using the FBI to pursue concerned parents and silence them through intimidation,” DeSantis tweeted Tuesday.
“Florida will defend the free speech rights of its citizens and will not allow federal agents to squelch dissent.”
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 remarks followed a memorandum Garland sent to the FBI on Monday concerning threats against school personnel.
BREAKING: Attorney General Merrick Garland has instructed the FBI to mobilize against parents who oppose critical race theory in public schools, citing “threats.”
The letter follows the National School Board Association’s request to classify protests as “domestic terrorism.” pic.twitter.com/NhPU03YOYq
— Christopher F. Rufo ⚔️ (@realchrisrufo) October 4, 2021
“In recent months, there has been a disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence among school administrators, board members, teachers, and staff who participate in the vital work of running our nation’s schools,” Garland wrote.
“The Department takes these incidents seriously and is committed to using its authority and resources to discourage these threats, identify them when they occur, and prosecute them when appropriate.
“In the coming days, the Department will announce a series of measures designed to address the rise in criminal conduct directed toward school personnel,” he continued. “Coordination and partnership with local law enforcement is critical to implementing these measures for the benefit of our nation’s nearly 14,000 public school districts.”
On Wednesday, the National School Boards Association penned a letter to President Joe Biden pleading with him to treat parents who oppose mask mandates and the teaching of critical race theory as domestic terrorists.
The NSBA began by asking “for federal law enforcement and other assistance to deal with the growing number of threats of violence and acts of intimidation occurring across the nation.”
“Now, we ask that the federal government investigate, intercept, and prevent the current threats and acts of violence against our public school officials through existing statutes, executive authority, interagency and intergovernmental task forces, and other extraordinary measures to ensure the safety of our children and educators, to protect interstate commerce, and to preserve public school infrastructure and campuses.”
The group said local and state law enforcement agencies were already working with certain public school officials to “prevent further disruptions to educational services and school district operations,” but more assistance was needed because “these threats and acts of violence have become more prevalent.”
The group also requested “the assistance of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service to intervene against threatening letters and cyberbullying attacks that have been transmitted to students, school board members, district administrators, and other educators.”
The NSBA’s most concerning section noted, “As these acts of malice, violence, and threats against public school officials have increased, the classification of these heinous actions could be the equivalent to a form of domestic terrorism and hate crimes.”
“NSBA requests that such review examine appropriate enforceable actions against these crimes and acts of violence under the Gun-Free School Zones Act, the PATRIOT Act in regards to domestic terrorism, the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, the Violent Interference with Federally Protected Rights statute, the Conspiracy Against Rights statute, an Executive Order to enforce all applicable federal laws for the protection of students and public school district personnel, and any related measure.
“As the threats grow and news of extremist hate organizations showing up at school board meetings is being reported, this is a critical time for a proactive approach to deal with this difficult issue.”
“These threats and acts of violence are affecting our nation’s democracy at the very foundational levels, causing school board members — many who are not paid — to resign immediately and/or discontinue their service after their respective terms,” the association added.
“NSBA is committed to working with you and your Administration as a partner to address this crisis affecting America’s public schools, and greatly appreciates your prompt attention to our requests.”
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