U.S. Justice Dept defends efforts to step up monitoring threats to high school boards

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WASHINGTON, Oct 5 (Reuters) – Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco on Tuesday defended a brand new initiative to fight an increase in threats and harassment focusing on public college boards and lecturers throughout the nation, after Republican lawmakers accused the Justice Department of attempting to stifle dad and mom’ free speech.

In a listening to earlier than the Senate Judiciary Committee, Monaco informed lawmakers that the Justice Department isn’t attempting to censor speech, however merely coordinate with state and native regulation enforcement to make sure “there is an awareness of how to report threats that may occur and to ensure that there’s an open line of communication to address threats.”

On Monday evening, Attorney General Merrick Garland issued a brand new memo directing the FBI and federal prosecutors to satisfy with native and state police inside 30 days to debate methods for addressing the “disturbing trend” of threats dealing with America’s public educators.

“While spirited debate about policy matters is protected under our Constitution, that protection does not extend to threats of violence or efforts to intimidate individuals based on their views,” Garland wrote.

The memo comes as college boards throughout the nation, together with in close by Loudoun County, Virginia, have seen an increase in protests and violent rhetoric fueled by right-wing media over claims that public colleges are indoctrinating kids into considering America is a racist nation via the instructing of a doctrine often called essential race idea.

Critics say there isn’t any proof to counsel that essential race idea is being taught in most, if any, public colleges, however the subject has led to waves of protests and sometimes raucous college board conferences.

At the identical time, colleges have additionally been caught within the cross-hairs of an ongoing nationwide debate over whether or not college students needs to be required to put on masks to guard towards the unfold of the coronavirus.

Republican Senator Josh Hawley blasted the memo on Tuesday, evaluating it to the “McCarthy era,” a reference to the controversial practices of Republican Senator Joseph McCarthy, who stoked Cold War period fears within the Fifties by alleging that Communists had infiltrated the U.S. authorities, army and movie trade.

“Is parents waiting, sometimes for hours, to speak at a local school board meeting to express concerns about critical race theory or the masking of their students… is that in and of itself harassment and intimidation?” he requested.

“Spirited debate is welcome,” Monaco stated, including that the memo makes it clear that the division is just centered on addressing conditions that might flip violent.

Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch
Editing by Bill Berkrot

REUTERS/Tom Brenner

People hold placards as members of the Lake County School Board conduct an emergency meeting to discuss mask mandates to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Tavares, Florida, U.S., September 2, 2021.  REUTERS/Joe Skipper/File Photo

U.S. Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco delivers opening remarks at a meeting with federal and local law enforcement to discuss their work on the recently announced firearms trafficking strike forces, in New York, U.S., August 4, 2021. Richard Drew/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo