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Watch: Louisiana teacher arrested for asking GOP school board president for a raise

Republicans are increasingly afraid to meet their constituents at all, as evidenced by the fact that most GOP members of Congress stopped holding town halls around the middle of last year in response to criticism over health care. But even more chillingly, when GOP officials actually are forced to meet with the public — which […]

By Matthew Chapman - January 09, 2018
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Republicans are increasingly afraid to meet their constituents at all, as evidenced by the fact that most GOP members of Congress stopped holding town halls around the middle of last year in response to criticism over health care.

But even more chillingly, when GOP officials actually are forced to meet with the public — which many in local office still are — they are resorting to removal and arrest of anyone who criticizes them, as happened this week in Louisiana.

At a school board meeting in Vermilion Parish on Monday evening, an English teacher named Deyshia Hargrave stood up and asked the board a simple question:

HARGRAVE: Superintendent, how are you going to take a raise when there’s — ELA, when I first started teaching ELA, there was like 20, 21 kids in a class and now there’s 29 kids in a class that we are now having, and we have not gotten raises. How are you going to take that money, ’cause it’s basically taking it out of the pockets of teachers?

The Republican school board president, Anthony Fontana, brusquely cut her off.

“That’s not germane to what’s on the agenda tonight,” he said. “What’s on the agenda is the superintendent’s contract.”

“With a raise!” several people in the room immediately shouted.

Many in the room clearly shared her concern. Unlike the appointed superintendent, the board members are elected officials and owe the public answers on their plan.

“How are you taking a raise when you’re basically taking from the teachers and employees under you? When we have class sizes that are that big?” Hargrave pressed. “This directly speaks to what you have just voted on.”

At that point, an Abbeville marshal strode up to her, and — to the entire room’s shock — slapped handcuffs on Hargrave and placed her under arrest, while the board president continued to berate her.

Having constituents arrested for protesting or asking questions of Republicans at public meetings is becoming an all too common sight. When disabled activists came to Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner’s office in June to protest his attempts to cut Medicaid, they were dragged out of their wheelchairs, zip-tied, and arrested. More recently, Nevada Sen. Dean Heller had a Stage 4 cancer patient ejected at a town hall for criticizing the tax bill.

But this impulse to forcibly remove dissenters apparently filters all the way down to local officials. And it reflects a strong sense by these officials that they are not accountable to the people.

This is one of the most urgent reasons why the country needs a Democratic wave election at every ballot level. Republicans need to be reminded that they are public servants, and that they work for us.


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