There was a heated school board meeting last night down in Buncombe County, North Carolina, which includes Asheville. The topic was a new mask mandate for the county’s schools. But it’s a targeted one: the board voted to mandate masking for those who don’t show proof of vaccination. The vote was 4 to 2 in favor. Protesters insisted that this constituted dictatorship if the board didn’t agree to vote again.
But that wasn’t the end of it. The meeting attracted a pride of feral Trumpers who tried to disrupt it and pushed all sort of conspiracy theories about like “the fake vaccine is the plandemic.”
You can see one of the outbursts here.
— Hannah Mackenzie (@Hannahh_Mackk) August 5, 2021
So far, so good – a bit reminiscent of the Obamacare townhalls from 2009 but public meetings can get raucous. But it apparently got a bit too raucous and the board adjourned and left the hall. At this point some of the Trumpers decided that the 4-2 vote constituted a “dictatorship” and proceeded to “overthrow” the board and elect themselves the new board in place of them. “They acted as a dictatorship, and so therefore, the people then take it into our own hands to abolish that governance and reelect new members right then and there,” Stephanie Parsons, who is I believe is the one in the video above, told The Citizen-Times.
Off to the side the school board’s lawyer made clear that’s actually not how this works and the school board remains the school board.
In any case, what interested me here is that local Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R) gave an impassioned speech on behalf of the protesters (a.k.a., the new, faux board). “You have muzzled [parents’] voices,” said Cawthorn, “just as you have muzzled our children. You passed this mask mandate without input from those who hold you accountable because you knew it was wrong. You knew it would never withstand the scrutiny of the public. I’ve witnessed swampy backdoor tactics from corrupt bureaucrats in Washington D.C., but what you have done here puts that all to shame.”
What’s not clear to me is to what extent Cawthorn involved himself in the faux-revolutionary cosplay and overthrow. What also isn’t clear to me from the write-ups is just how the protesters were speaking. The Citizen-Times article said that the board had eliminated public comment at this meeting. They did that apparently because the same group had disrupted earlier meetings. But as the article explains lots of people did speak, including Cawthorn. So I don’t know if there are contending definitions of public comment or whether they just took over the mic and spoke regardless.
Anyway, I’m still trying to understand just how Cawthorn was related to the “overthrow” if he was and what role he played in the whole dustup.