School Board districts across Arizona are the latest target for right-wing, Trump and QAnon followers from one end of the county to the other. Bringing in outside agitators creates chaos in public meetings and protesting curriculums they fear and know nothing about. Their goal is not better education but simple disruption.

Extreme, dangerous candidates are running for school boards in Arizona. 

Recently from Scottsdale to Litchfield Park to Vail – and soon to other school boards in-between – ‘Purple Parents’ has engaged in shouting matches with elected school board members, attempted to seat rogue board members, and threats of violence. These local insurrectionists follow the script of nationalistic and white supremacists spewed on January 6th against the federal government and Democracy itself.

Purple Parents call teachers “Terrorists”

At the bedrock level of Democracy, our duly elected local school boards are being overrun and threatened by forces seeking no loftier goal than the breakdown of our educational institutions.

The forces let loose in Washington, DC, inspire and even organize these grassroots efforts to question our Maricopa County elections and attack local school boards with mobs chanting right-wing conspiracies, racist ideology, and opposition to current health codes.

Purple Parents in violent protest

For example, at a recent Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD) in-person meeting of the Board of Governors, the policy of requiring masks to protect everyone’s health was demonstrably rejected by numerous attendees. Some of them were identified as from outside the district and brought in to disrupt the meeting. After numerous requests from the board to adhere to the health policy, and with loud objections to the requirement still ringing in the air, the meeting was suspended.

A hostile crowd of 200 people shut down the Vail school board meeting on April 27, 2021.

Scottsdale Police officials later said they have tracked these groups of agitators to other school districts in the valley and warn of potentially violent conflicts.

Critically important on the agenda of that meeting – and also sad – was the suspension of year-end SUSD awards to students, teachers, and others for their academic achievements, professional commitment, and service to their education community. Recognition for their positive efforts was also dismissed, shouted down by the thoughtless crowd.

In Litchfield Park over several weeks, a sea of purple shirts has descended upon quiet, normally boring Litchfield Elementary School District (LESD) meetings. They angrily demanded to know why the district was implementing an “equity program” they claimed was anti-white. The program – discussed, updated, and approved by the elected board in December 2020 – was meant to address poor academic performance and high rates of suspensions of students of color.

Violent protests by Purple for Parents create chaos at school boards across Arizona.

Despite LESD continually denying accusations of being anti-white, the mob, known as the Purple for Parents, scolded the board against critical race theory and The 1619 Project and demanded cancellation of the equity program. In several meetings, a disruptive crowd cheered for their supporters and jeered at the pro-equity supporters. Insults were flung and district employees were verbally attacked.

Purple for Parents is a spinoff of Patriot Movement AZ, identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group. More than 30 ‘Patriot’ members have become GOP precinct committeemen. According to attendees at the meetings, many parents have lodged complaints to the LESD worried some in the audience may be armed and pose physical threats against staff, board members, and parents.

At the national level, Democracy was attacked by seditionist Electoral College challenges and current bogus audits designed to call into question the legitimacy of Presidential election outcomes – right here in Maricopa County and soon in other battleground states. Locally, at the core of our civic life, Maricopa County school boards are being attacked by home-grown versions of hate groups, white nationalists, and fear mongers.

To the purveyors of both threats to our Democracy, our voices must be louder, our protests bigger, and our moral outrage more visible. The civil rights and anti-war movements of recent decades showed us the way. We need to learn those lessons and tactics again. In our era, this fight to protect Democracy deserves no less.