Wild video captured a group of irate people in Tennessee hurling threats at health-care professionals and school board members after a mask mandate was reinstated – with one man threatening, “We know who you are! You can leave freely, but we will find you!”
The chaos erupted Tuesday night in Franklin, just south of Nashville, where the Williamson County Board of Education approved the mask requirement for elementary schools as protesters gathered outside, according to News Channel 5.
During the heated debate before the measure was passed, a parent who identified himself as former Marine Daniel Jordan told the board, “Actions have consequences. If you vote for this, we will come for you, in a non-violent way,” CNN reported.
He added: “In the past, you dealt with sheep, now prepare yourself to deal with lions.”
Dr. Jennifer King, a parent and physician, told the board, “As a pediatric ICU physician, we are seeing more younger previously healthy children admitted with respiratory failure and acute respiratory distress syndrome than we have in prior strains, as cases in children are on the rise.
“This trend will only worsen if we don’t act now,” she said during the raucous meeting, where attendees cheered, clapped and booed. Police escorted some disruptive people out of the room, footage shared on Twitter shows.
Outside, meanwhile, irate parents chanted “We’ll not comply!” and yelled obscenities as the health-care workers streamed out of the building after the emotionally charged session, The Hill reported.
“Take that mask off!” one woman was heard yelling.
An unmasked man was seen yelling at a health-care worker walking to his car, “You’re not on our side!” We know who you are!”
Another man, who pointed a finger at the car, shouted, “We know who you are! You can leave freely, but we will find you!”
The man, Michael Miller, a health-care data analyst, had earlier asked the school board to reinstate the mask mandate, according to News Channel 5.
“There is a place in hell for you guys! There is a bad place in hell and everybody’s taking notes, buddy,” another man yelled, video shows.
At one point, a sergeant with the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office pleaded for the crowd to be peaceful.
“We are here for everybody’s safety, we are here for y’all just as much as we are here for everybody else, OK?” he said.
“We are here, we are away from our families, some of us are on a 17-, almost an 18-hour day, and that’s me. So I’m here for y’all. I’m here for y’all. We want everything to be peaceful. I am begging y’all to be peaceful,” the sergeant added.
School board spokeswoman Carol Birdsong said in a statement to News Channel 5: “Our parents are passionate about their children’s education, and that’s one of the reasons for our district’s success over the years. With that said, there’s no excuse for incivility.
“We serve more than 40,000 students and employ more than 5,000 staff members. Our families and staff represent a wide variety of thoughts and beliefs, and it is important in our district that all families and staff have the opportunity to be represented and respected,” she said.
“We will continue to work toward making sure all voices are heard and that all families, staff and community members feel safe sharing their opinions,” Birdsong added after the board voted 7-3 to require masks in elementary schools for all students, staff and visitors.
The policy goes into effect Thursday and will last until at least Sept. 21.
Last week, state Health Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey said pediatric cases are spiking, nearly doubling from the week of July 18 to July 25, adding that hospitals started filling up in early July due to respiratory illnesses, according to the outlet.
“When you add COVID hospitalizations on top of that, that’s just enough to tip the scales sometimes,” she said.
Schools Superintendent Jason Golden recommended the board pass the mask policy since elementary age students are not eligible to get the jab, The Tennessean reported. Masks will remain optional at middle and high schools.