In May, a school board meeting in Utah erupted into chaos as dozens of people angrily protested the state’s school mask policy. About two months later, members of that angry mob could face up to six months in prison and fines of up to $1,000, CBS affiliate KUTV reports.
Eleven people were charged with disorderly conduct and disrupting a public meeting this week, a spokesperson for Granite School District confirmed to CBS News. The charges were filed by the South Salt Lake City Attorney.
When Utah met the criteria for statewide COVID-19 mandates to be lifted, Utah Department of Health decided to continue to require masks for K-12 students for the final weeks of the school year, KUTV reports.
That prompted dozens of protesters to show up to a May 4 Granite School Board meeting — even though masks were not on the agenda.
Video from the meeting shows a parent speak up in support of the mask mandate: “Do not change your game plan in the ninth inning and acquiesce,” she said. Other people began shouting, some chanting “No more masks.”
When former board member and current state senator Kathleen Riebe got up to the podium to talk about teacher appreciation, she was booed by the group.
As the shouting continued, one board member yelled out a motion to adjourn the meeting, which was quickly seconded. Although the meeting ended, the protests continued and police were called to deescalate the situation.
CHAOS: Granite school board members hastily adjourned their meeting Tuesday night as unruly parents demanded an immediate end to the mask mandate in K-12 schools. https://t.co/E7YPMLQADr pic.twitter.com/3meqRBsoWg
Following the out-of-control meeting, the Granite School Board released a statement saying it “believes and encourages a diversity of opinions when shared in respectful and civil manner and will continue to encourage civil discourse as a model for the children which we have stewardship over,” according to KUTV.
Now, at least 11 people who were there face Class B misdemeanor charges, KUTV reports.
In a statement to CBS News, a spokesperson for Granite School District said “because many of the individuals were not associated with the district as patrons or residents, there was an extended amount of time needed to identify the perpetrators as part of this investigation.”
The spokesperson said a 12th suspect wanted in the case has not yet been identified and police are seeking information about their identity.
“While there was a police presence at the meeting, the decision was made in advance to be non-confrontational unless the situation became violent,” the statement continued. “Regardless, there are repercussions for these actions and the board was unable to conduct its business as a result of these disruptive criminal actions.”
“The board and district encourage civil discourse as we model appropriate behavior for our children and students,” the spokesperson said.
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