Loudon County Sheriff to Parents: There’s nothing to see here.
Sheriffs were bound to talk about CRT one day
On July 31, the Loudon County Sheriff’s Office issued a letter explaining the results of an investigation into an anti-racism parent group, which was a Facebook group of parents and school board members who were concerned about the increase of anti-CRT protestors and agitators. According to the letter, the sheriff’s office had looked into complaints made by two people (whose names are redacted) that the “Anti-Racist Parents of Loudon County” were engaged in “organized criminal activity intended to infringe upon 1st Amendment rights” as well as “stalking, harassment and racketeering.”
For an investigation that yielded nothing, the letter is long and surely not inspired by the upcoming school board meeting, which I believe is August 10.
The basic gist was that some of the anti-CRT/ pro-racist people became convinced that the anti-racists were compiling “hit lists” and talking about targeting specific people. (With what is unclear.) The LCSO subpoenaed the Facebook records of members of the group to confirm…no laws were broken. They also interviewed the alleged “hit list members” and spoke with the FBI as well as “federal and state attorneys,” who all confirmed no crime was committed. (Honestly, it sounds like some people in the anti-racist group were just complaining about racists. Which is…fine!)
The letter perplexingly ends with a note that the complainants can “pursue misdemeanor criminal charges or other civil remedies.” Some Facebook groups have interpreted this as encouragement for the complainants to do so. I…don’t think so. But, I guess, if the pro-racists raise enough outside money, they can hire an attorney to pursue misdemeanor charges (which is legal in Virginia) or sue them for…something? (Dollars to donuts, one of the complaints is either Loudoun Parents for Education leader Ian Prior, a former Trump Justice Department spokesman and pro-racist loudmouth or Parents Against Critical Theory operator Scott Mineo, the guy who called news stations about Dr. Suess being canceled.)
As other journalists have documented, much of the fervor against Critical Race Theory has been perpetuated by right-wing operatives who have been storming school board meetings and shouting down the school board members. The anti-racist group, on the other hand, was dedicated to ensuring that the pro-racist group didn’t get its way. There are also allegations that the pro-racists began harassing the anti-racists and some of the school board members. (But we don’t know if the LCSO investigated…) This piece is a really good tick-tock.
In June, there was a school board meeting in which a lot of anti-CRT people began to give public comment. It turned into a shouting and pushing match and ended with the Loudon County Sheriff’s Office (which is the only policing agency in Loudon County) arresting two people.
Let’s be clear that Loudon County has a really racist history. It was one of the last counties in the country to segregate its schools. Within the last few years, kids were wearing Confederate flag apparel to school. KKK flyers were being left on cars. Swastikas were painted on homes. In 2019, the local NAACP sued Loudon schools for a racist and hostile environment, where students were called racist slurs and teachers looked the other way. The state attorney general concluded “that the district’s policies and practices had harmed Black and Latino students and outlined steps for the district to address the ‘discriminatory disparate impact identified and help ensure equal opportunity for each student.’”
The district was responding by hiring consultants and trying to create policies that would create a more equitable environment, including renaming a school that was named after a Confederate something-or-other.
Loudon County is a county where demographics are changing. The population has quadrupled in recent years. White students are now 43% of students, no longer the majority as they once were. 1 in 4 residents are immigrants. One part of the county is a growing suburb of D.C.; another is still very rural and Republican. It’s now one of the wealthiest counties in the nation.
It was these conservative voters who ensured life-long Republican Mike Chapman (first elected in 2012) remained sheriff of Loudon County even as the county Board of Supervisors recently flipped Democrat, which means the majority of board members were disinclined to agree with Chapman’s policies. (Chapman opposed civilian oversight and met with Donald Trump at the White House to discuss policing.)
In response, the Chair of the BOS Phyllis Randall proposed that the county create its own local police force, which would remove the sheriff from the community as law enforcement authority. The LCSO produced an impressive 100-page report to explain why sheriffs were better than police. Ultimately, the whole thing became such a hullaballoo that the board put aside the idea.
So, what to take from this? Is the LCSO tacitly supporting the anti-CRT movement? Or was this letter just an example of attempting to show that the LCSO is a very competent, not-wasteful policing agency capable of looking into (checks notes) RACKETEERING by disgruntled parents? Or does the LCSO fear that the pro-racists might be inclined to also impeach the sheriff for its failure to properly arrests Facebook parents? Who can say?