Justice Department memo directs FBI to help schools report threatening conduct
The Justice Department is responding to a wave of angry protests at school boards across the country, as education officials and teachers face the wrath of conservative parents opposed to the supposed teaching of “critical race theory” and mask mandates.
A memorandum from Merrick Garland, the US attorney general, on Tuesday directed FBI officials to meet with state and local leaders to address “ harassment, intimidation and threats of violence against school board members, teachers and workers in our nation’s public schools”.
As the agency plans to address the rising threats of violence towards teachers and others in the coming days, the statement adds, the FBI will also train school boards and teachers on the best ways to report credible threats of violence to the appropriate law enforcement agencies.
“Threats against public servants are not only illegal, they run counter to our nation’s core values,” said Mr Garland. “Those who dedicate their time and energy to ensuring that our children receive a proper education in a safe environment deserve to be able to do their work without fear for their safety.”
The directive from Mr Garland comes in response to a wave of videos and news reports of explosive protests at school boards across the country where parents have confronted school officials about mask mandates related to efforts to prevent Covid-19, as well as fears of “critical race theory” ginned up by conservative commentators and politicians.
Central tenets of critical race theory include the acceptance of the existence of systemic racism in America, which proponents argue is supported by evidence ranging from the conduct of law enforcement in America today and dating back to the times of slavery and colonisation of the United States.
The teaching of such a school of thought is fiercely opposed by many conservatives, who also are against the arguments regarding racial injustice supported by the Black Lives Matter movement.
Teachers have now been trust onto a battlefield between the dominant political theories in America, as ignoring the United States’ history of racial discrimination and injustice can be seen as tacitly supporting it, while merely discussing such issues in the classroom evokes furious responses from the right.
Republican-led jurisdictions around the country have moved to implement laws banning the discussion of critical race theory, with some officials even going as far to say that any “antiracism” instruction should be banned.
Democrats and organisations representing teachers have labeled the efforts of GOP politicians to ban critical race theory as clear attempts to grandstand and play to the right-wing base while inflaming political tensions over the issue of race.