Governor Ron DeSantis (R-FL) said that Florida would not work with any federal agents attempting to “squelch dissent” from parents at school board meetings.
DeSantis slammed the Biden administration on Wednesday during a press conference in Florida’s Brevard County. The GOP governor voiced opposition to a recent memo from Attorney General Merrick Garland directing the FBI to begin working with local law enforcement to crack down on “harassment” and “threats” against school officials, including at school board meetings.
The Florida governor denounced the memo, calling it an intimidation tactic meant to scare parents out of sticking up for their children’s health and education over policies such as forced masking and curricula involving Critical Race Theory.
“To mobilize the FBI, there’s no need for it, of course. There’s not been any sense that somehow [Florida law enforcement] weren’t going to do their job if need be,” DeSantis said. “The reason to do that is to intimidate parents, is to squelch dissent, is to have them shut up and just take it even when they strongly disagree with what may be happening with their kid.”
“We’re not going to let the federal government come in and impose bad policies or mandates on Floridians,” he continued. “We’re going to make sure we’re protecting parents and students in the state of Florida. We’re not going to let the Department of Justice be weaponized to infringe First Amendment rights of parents. We are going to fight to preserve the rights of parents. And as we continue to see the use of fear and intimidation to suppress opposition to the regime, we’re going to find new ways to be able to empower parents’ rights to decide what is best for their children.
“Parents across the state should know that their freedoms are going to be protected here and that the state of Florida has your back,” DeSantis said.
DeSantis followed up his remarks with a tweet saying: “Weaponizing the Department of Justice against everyday parents trying to raise their kids is dangerous and un-American. We should encourage parental engagement in a child’s education – not use intimidation tactics to try and prevent it.”
On October 4, Garland issued a memo directing the FBI to take action to curb “a disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence against school administrators, board members, teachers, and staff who participate in the vital work of running our nation’s public schools.”
The memo came shortly after the National School Boards Association (NSBA) pushed President Joe Biden to take action against a rise in “malice, violence, and threats” at school board meetings and online. The association said these acts could constitute “a form of domestic terrorism and hate crimes.”
“The U.S. Department of Justice’s swift action in response to NSBA’s request is a strong message to individuals with violent intent who are focused on causing chaos, disrupting our public schools, and driving wedges between school boards and the parents, students, and communities they serve,” NSBA CEO Chip Slaven said in a statement reacting to Garland’s memo. “We need to get back to the work of meeting all students’ needs and making sure that each student is prepared for a successful future. That’s what school board members and parents care about.”
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