During the public comments section of the Sept. 9 CUSD School Board meeting, Brian Trotier, the Vice President of the Coronado Democratic Club, spoke for about 10 minutes, mostly criticizing We the Parents Coronado. The First Amendment and the Brown Act protect such speech. I also note that you did not interrupt me when I responded to Mr. Trotier’s comments. While debate is healthy, I am concerned this political theater has a more sinister motive, intended to silence dissent.
It is one thing for a politician like Mr. Trotier to get up and say we aren’t parents, when you know very well from the emails and other communications you have received from our members, that we are mostly parents and grandparents of children in Coronado’s schools. He can criticize us for having a meeting with Carl DeMaio’s Reform California. Or for posting an innocent sounding article about the Declaration of Independence on our website that turned out to be written by someone whose other views we weren’t aware of and we also condemn. We don’t even know what a “Three Percenter” is. We have thick skins. We can dish it out and we can take it, so long as it remains relatively civil. (Unlike Mr. Trotier’s behavior back in June when he called our supporters “Enemies,” took all of our pictures, and said we would “regret” going into a school board meeting to speak.) This disturbing behavior was made known to you and the entire Board at that time.
What is not civil under the Board’s current Civility Policy, BP 1313, is for an elected School Board Trustee to call me and my friends terrorists. In a recent public comment on Twitter, Trustee Whitney Antrim stated: “This is what we are up against - fringe groups terrorizing our community. We the Parents of Coronado.”
As a 24-year active duty Navy veteran who served during 9/11, and someone who lost close friends to actual murderous terrorists, I know what terrorism is and I will never forget what terrorism looks like. A peaceful, local, parent-led organization exercising our First Amendment rights is not terrorism. I demand that Trustee Whitney Antrim apologize immediately for that comment, which was clearly intended to intimidate us. Shame on her!
At the August 19 board meeting, speaking in favor of a much broader draft Civility policy, Trustee Antrim stated, “I have said it up here many times, but I welcome dialogue. I’m open to it, but I … assuming it’s passed after the second read, that it will apply to all of us and be mandatory, so any of that behavior would be grounds for non-return to all of our facilities.” Is that Ms. Antrim’s end game? Have her supporters come in to the board meeting and label us a “fringe group,” in secret alliance with extremist groups, “terrorizing our community?” Then if the chair finds one of us to be speaking out of order, ban us from school property? How chilling! And coming from a “Democrat?”
I would like to know if you consider such ad hominem attacks on our group, encouraged by a member of the Board, to be civil. If not, perhaps it is time for you to get your own house in order.