FBI falsely claims agency never investigated parents at school board meeting

Garland tasked the FBI with figuring out how to "prosecute" Americans for "harassment, intimidation and threats of violence against school board members." 

Libby Emmons Brooklyn NY
FBI Director Christopher Wray claimed before the House Judiciary Committee on July 12 that "The FBI is not and never has been in the business of policing or investigating speech by parents at school board meetings... when there's violence, or threats of violence–we're going to work with our state and local partners as we always have."

In October 2021, Biden's Department of Justice under Merrick Garland issued a letter saying that the department would address violent threats against educators. "Citing an increase in harassment, intimidation and threats of violence against school board members, teachers and workers in our nation's public schools," Garland went on to say that strategies would be discussed to deal with this "disturbing trend."

The efforts to curtail the issue were "expected to include the creation of a task force, consisting of representatives from the department’s Criminal Division, National Security Division, Civil Rights Division, the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys, the FBI, the Community Relations Service and the Office of Justice Programs, to determine how federal enforcement tools can be used to prosecute these crimes, and ways to assist state, Tribal, territorial and local law enforcement where threats of violence may not constitute federal crimes."

Garland tasked the FBI with figuring out how to "prosecute" Americans for "harassment, intimidation and threats of violence against school board members," even in cases where "threats of violence may not constitute federal crimes." 

In May 2023, former FBI Special Agents offered their testimony before the House Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government. As part of that testimony, it was revealed that The FBI was a witting participant in the Administration’s anti-parent endeavor. A press release accompanying the Attorney General’s memorandum highlighted the FBI’s National Threat Operations Center for tips about parents at school board meetings."

Rep. Matt Gaetz shared a video of his questioning of one of the former agents, Steve Friend, who testified that he was tasked by the FBI with taking down license plate numbers of parked cars at school board meetings.

What was revealed was that after Garland's memo was sent, a "threat tag" was created across the country to apply to school board investigations." 

"The FBI then began to open investigations with the EDUOFFICIALS threat tag across the nation and established case files on dozens of parents with information that included their political views and the application of this 'threat tag' simply because they exercised their fundamental constitutional right to speak," the report from the hearing continued.

"The FBI informed the Committee that, between October 14, 2021, and the end of January 2023, the FBI applied the EDUOFFICIALS threat tag to 'approximately 25' cases—only one of which 'subsequently resulted in the opening of a Full Investigation.' Additionally, the FBI stated that the majority of these 25 cases 'were referred to state and local law enforcement, and the vast majority—all but one—have been closed at the FBI level.'

"The FBI also provided that 17 of the 25 cases 'were assigned to the [FBI’s] Criminal Investigative Division; six were assigned to the Counterterrorism Division; and the remaining two were assigned to the Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate . . . .' In other words, the FBI’s disclosure confirmed whistleblower allegations that the FBI had misused criminal and counterterrorism resources against parents attending school board meetings."

And there's also evidence that these investigations were carried out. A letter sent from the Judiciary Committee in May 2022 revealed that parents had indeed been investigated for speaking out at school board meetings, and for stating their intention to mobilize constituents to run against incumbent members and flip their seats for parental rights advocates.

"In one investigation," the Judiciary Committee's letter read, "begun following your directive, the FBI's [redacted] Field Office interviewed a mom for allegedly telling a local school board we are coming for you.' The complaint, which came into the FBI through the National Threat Operations Center snitch-line, alleged that the mom was a threat because she belonged to a 'right wing mom's group' known as 'Moms for Liberty' and because she 'is a gun owner.' When an FBI agent interviewed the mom, she told the agent that she was upset about the school board's mask mandates and that her statement was a warning that her organization would see to replace the school board with new members through the electoral process."

A dad who opposed mask mandates was also questioned by the FBI, and that it also came through the National Threat Operations Center snitch-line, claiming that the dad "fit the profile of an insurrectionist" because he "rails against the government," "believes all conspiracy theories," and "has a lot of guns and threatens to use them."
In another case, the FBI "opened an investigation into Republican state elected officials over allegations from a state Democratic party officials that the Republicans 'incited violence' by expressing public displeasure with school districts' vaccine mandates.
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