Tuesday, October 12, 2021
To the Rochester Public School Board Members and Superintendent,
I am writing to you today to express my grave concern over the incident from Tuesday, October 5th, 2021. While I will acknowledge that the circumstances surrounding the short standoff in the foyer were chaotic, and truly unfortunate, the escalation in the situation was not provoked by any of the private citizens in attendance.
For many years I have been a student of history and of protests, it is part and parcel of the American Way of Life. From Boston preceding 1776, Christian abolitionist previous to the Civil War, to the Labor Uprisings in the early 1900’s, to protests against Prohibition and on to the Freedom Riders and anti-war protests of the 1950’s and 1960’s. Protesting has always been and always will be a way for the True American Government, We the People, to express our dissent and disagreement to elected and appointed servants; from dog catchers to city councils to governors to presidents and yes, even to sitting school boards.
The First Amendment reads, “Congress (read this to now be understood thru precedence any governing body) shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
Understand that you as a local government board, do not merely represent the school district, nor do you merely represent the citizens who agree with you. Nor are you exempt from the dictums of the First Amendment. While you as a board may not be Congress, the Courts in the United States have frowned heavily upon school boards in numerous cases where they have sought to stifle dissent, place restrictions on addressing boards or seeking a redress of grievances. The actions that you as a board and the district have decided to take fall into the scope and breadth of those decisions.
Moreover, a representative of your district, Scott Sherden, a former member of the law enforcement community, without cause or authority, physically assaulted my person in the execution of your orders to silence dissent. Had I done the same to Scott in that situation I would have been detained, arrested, and charged for assault. Scott, by mere privilege of position is now free to act in the same manner with the apparent consent and encouragement of the Rochester School Board, Rochester Superintendent and totality of Administration.
I am certain that you believe that Scott was acting in accordance with what you deem to be proper and appropriate action. However, this is not the case. No private citizen acting in accordance with the Liberties enshrined in the Constitution of this once great Republic should ever be placed in a position wherein, they fear being assailed for those self-same exercises of Liberty.
Having called and asked that a formal grievance be filed against Scott for his needless escalation and aggravation of what was a peaceful assembly for the redress of grievances, I have heard no subsequent acknowledgement from any member of the school board or from the administration of my grievance. While I am aware that any and all actions taken on this matter are not subject to public information, even the offended party, a simple response via email to acknowledge the offense as perpetrated by the board and administration via your representative would have sufficed.
My expectation moving on from this point is that not only the board responds to my grievance, but that you make a public statement (without naming Scott in your statement of course) that as a district you do not condone the needless use of force by any member of your school district staff against a private citizen unless that citizen poses a substantial and immediate tangible physical threat to students or personnel of the district. At no point did I or any of the other citizens present, pose such a threat.
It was your action as a board that caused the escalation in conflict. Furthermore, the initiation of force by Scott Sherden on behalf of the school district and the school board was reckless, immoral, unethical, and abusive. I expect a written apology from the board, the superintendent and personally from Sherden.
While these are my expectations as a private citizen I am wholly and fundamentally aware that you will not follow through on these expectations in the least. As such, I will publish this letter on several platforms. I will also be updating the public on any responses or lack of response on a weekly basis. Again, it was not my desire or the desire of any other citizen that night to be in conflict with any member of the school board or administration. The fault rests on your shoulders and the burden of guilt for the initiation of force lies on Scott. It was in poor form and a needless display of his egotistic power over those he deems himself to be superior to. Scott needs a stern reprimand and some time sent home without pay to think about the consequences of initiating force without need.
While this may seem pointed and confrontational, I write out of respect for your difficult and tenuous situation. I cannot imagine the difficulty of operating under the pressure you as a board have placed yourselves. Please note, I would never condone threats, harassment, or intimidation against you or district staff. I am wholly committed to peaceful protest, civility, and civil obedience to the Constitution. Despite our clear philosophical differences and disparate worldviews, I would lay my life down to defend and protect you from true threats and would in the strongest of language condemn and rebuke any who would seek to harm you in any way. For me this is an argument of ideas and values and perhaps even ethics. No such disagreement should ever result in or ever end with what happened on Tuesday October 5th of 2021 when a representative of your district and the body of the board-initiated force for nothing more than a philosophical disagreement about facial coverings.
I would urge you to rethink your position and make yourselves available to the private citizenry that disagree with you by meeting on their terms as is their right and expectation. As the public servants in this case, your duty is to bend to their will, not to have them forced to “their knees” metaphorically, to have an audience with you. Your duty is to represent all, not just those you agree with, or even the majority.
God speed and know I respectfully submit this to you and await your replies.
Sincerely and in earnest respect,
Minnesota Black Robe Regiment