Loudoun’s superintendent compared parents’ protests to January 6, of people drinking at the beach | Local News
Loudoun’s superintendent compared parents’ protests to January 6, of people drinking at the beach
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Loudoun School Superintendent Scott Ziegler compared a parental protest to the events of January 6 and its experience of seeing people drinking at the beach – once again highlighting the tension between administrators, forces of order and parents just days before the hotly contested election of Virginia governors.
Ziegler’s comments came as part of a court hearing for Jon Tigges, who was arrested for alleged trespassing during a boisterous school board meeting on June 22.
At a hearing in September, Ziegler said he had experience in crowd control while working as a police chaplain in the city of Virginia Beach. Tigges attorney Chris Kachouroff followed Ziegler by asking, “You were drawing an analogy between the crowd that was there that night and the crowd that came from the bars where people had been drinking on the Virginia Beach Strip.”
“Yes,” Ziegler replied at the September 22 hearing before the Loudoun General District Court. He also confirmed to Kachouroff that he thought the events reminded him of January 6. Earlier in his testimony, he offered Commonwealth lawyer Buta Biberaj additional insight into his reasoning.
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He noted that “someone had brought in a voice amplification device at one point, and there were individuals, I guess, trying to organize their own version of the public comment.”
Ziegler added that “at that point it became clear to me that we weren’t going to be able to restore order in the room, that these individuals were going to continue to stand on chairs, that they were going to to oppose things that were on the agenda that night, but also that it was not going to be safe in the room for those who disagreed with their opinion. Basically, individuals had entered the meeting room and it reminded me a lot of January 6th. “
At one point, Kachouroff asked Ziegler if people were “burning chairs inside the room” – a reference to violent activity that took place in Portland, Oregon. “No, but there were people moving the chairs aggressively, yes,” Ziegler replied.
Ziegler’s testimony provides additional behind-the-scenes details about a meeting that grabbed national headlines and continued to influence the state governorship contest.
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Fox News on Thursday released documents showing the June 22 meeting appeared to spark what the sheriff’s office described as “extraordinary” security demands for another meeting in August.
Nationally, law enforcement and school officials have generated negative reactions for their interest in investigating parents who oppose school board policies. Most notably, the US Department of Justice launched a nationwide investigation after the National School Board Association (NSBA) sent a letter suggesting parents may be engaging in domestic terrorism. Although the NSBA ultimately apologized for its language, the incident resurfaced concerns about free speech and the possibility that left-wing figures would appropriate the alleged threat of domestic terrorism after January 6.
The association between parents and “right-wing” violence has spread in the media in recent weeks. Earlier this week, Biberaj took part in an MSNBC interview in which she said: “[I]If you’ve seen the video before, it really does have a hint of the Jan.6 insurgency right through to the crowd mentality, the rhetoric on fire. It was just a very dangerous situation that the officers found themselves in and they had to create some opportunity for calm. “
Ian Prior, who runs Fight for Schools PAC, told Fox News: “The Loudoun County Superintendent and Commonwealth Prosecutor have all worked overtime to present the June 22 school board meeting as some sort of event. of January 6. The news of the last few weeks has put an end to this false narrative. “
“The school board tried to silence the opposition; they did so to the applause of a speaker. And then the superintendent declared a gathering illegal when he had no legal authority to do so,” added Prior, who is a Loudoun parent and a previous Trump. administrative official.
Prior added that “[t]Here, there will never be confidence in Loudoun County schools until Superintendent Ziegler is fired and the board members who were complicit in a blanket – which directly led to a second alleged sexual assault – resign. “
While Loudoun has made national headlines in the past, this particular meeting seemed to sum up months of pent-up frustration in the county. Coronavirus guidelines had been relaxed at this point and parents were allowed to occupy the meeting area. The board eventually left when the parents continued to applaud the speakers, despite the board chairman’s instructions to use jazz hands.
Ziegler later declared the gathering illegal – something he later admitted was “incorrect,” according to the hearing transcript. After this statement, Ziegler said he consulted with the sheriff’s office, which agreed to release the room.
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“Major [Easton] McDonald said, ‘Go ahead and make the announcement,’ ”Ziegler recalls. McDonald also confirmed this in subsequent testimony, noting that he agreed with Ziegler’s request to clear the room after seeing one of his officers “tackled” by another individual.
At least two people – including Tigges – have been arrested. The other person was Scott Smith, whose alleged sexual assault of the girl became a flashpoint in the debate over gender policies in schools.
Ziegler did not respond to Fox News’ request for comment.
Fox News released documents Thursday showing Sheriff Mike Chapman was frustrated with how Ziegler handled the June 22 meeting and believed attendees should have been able to voice their opinions.
An August letter details a phone conversation in which Chapman said the school board “unilaterally decided to limit public comment.” Prior to Ziegler’s statement and the McDonald’s consultation, the school board voted to end public comments, but testimony from McDonald’s indicates it played a role in limiting their parents’ presence in the building.
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Chapman also said he believed people should “have been allowed to speak (reference to school board meeting on June 22, 2021)”. These details entered in the notes from LCPS chief operating officer Kevin Lewis, which Chapman confirmed to Fox News as “accurately” describing his concerns.
The notes added that Chapman believed that “the perspective is that the LCSO [Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office] deprived citizens of their right to speak in public, and the “[s]the school board rejects people they disagree with. “
Chapman did not respond to a request for comment for this story. A spokesperson for the public schools in Loudoun County either.
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