Police officers working for the Moore County School District in North Carolina blocked access to parents and other concerned citizens wanting to attend its monthly meeting on Tuesday.
A video obtained by The Patriot Project shows chief school resource officer Arthur Frye threatening those outside the district’s Central Office location in Carthage, where the meeting was taking place, to stay quiet or face arrest.
A woman can be heard telling the officer he is not treating the people outside like human beings.
“I don’t need a lecture,” Frye responded. “What I’m asking you to do is to calm down because you’re disturbing the meeting here.”
“I will ask you one time to calm down and if not then we’ll be forced to make you move away from the front of this building,” the police officer added.
“The next thing will be you’ll find yourself under arrest, ma’am. Don’t force the issue,” Frye said.
“So you’re threatening us?” the woman asked.
“That’s not a threat. That’s a promise. That’s a fact,” he responded.
Another officer then interjected, “We’re asking for your cooperation so that the board meeting can proceed.”
Someone questioned Frye why they couldn’t go inside the meeting.
He responded, “We do not have an open seat in this building.”
“Are all the seats full?” a person can be heard asking.
“Yes, all of them are full,” Frye replied.
“I’m not here to debate anymore. I’ve said what I had to say,” he then stated and returned inside the building, while another officer remained standing in front of the entrance.
In the meeting, school board member David Hensley asked why some outside could not come in the building, given there were a dozen or so open seats.
“Is there any reason why the SROs cannot let people in to attend the meeting and fill the vacant seats?” he asked.
“I believe it was to avoid more disruption,” school board chairwoman Elizabeth Carter answered.
She then said that the hour allotted for public comments had ended, to which board member Robert Levy responded that others should be allowed to speak.
“I think it’s important to hear from everybody whether they’re for my position or against it,” he said.
The board voted in favor to allow the rest who wished to make public comment to do so.
One of those present outside the building told Project Project that any who signed up were allowed to speak.
“People were there to speak about different things,” said the woman, who requested to remain anonymous due to her involvement in other county-related matters.
Some of issues people wanted to address included COVID testing and quarantining, the district’s sale of a property, critical race theory and Panorama Education (a student data collection program).
Panorama, she explained, is “really rooted in critical race in that they give surveys to kids, which are very inappropriate.”
The woman speculated the reason the board did not want to allow more people in the room was not the presence of the parents. “They’re not scared of parents,” she said. “They’re scared of the truth. That’s the problem.”
“That’s why we’re being silenced. We’re not domestic terrorists.”
The woman did say all those waiting outside were eventually allowed to enter the building and take the vacant seats. She had waited two hours.
“People ended up leaving” before the board allowed them in, she noted.
Catherine Murphy, communications director for Moore County Schools, told Patriot Project via email, “There was an unusually large attendance for that meeting because of the sale of a school board property to a local community organization.”
“Everyone who signed up to speak that night had the opportunity to address the school board, whether they were inside or outside,” Murphy added. “We also allow for phone-in comments during the public comment period in order to provide as many opportunities as possible for people to address the board.”
Murphy also wrote that the board meeting had increased security Tuesday because of a “threat left on a district voice mail,” which is currently under investigation.
Further, “At the September 22 school board meeting, several attendees willfully defied law enforcement inside the boardroom causing disruptions. Unfortunately, those disruptions forced the district to take additional security measures to ensure the safety of school board members, district staff and attendees.”