Three Men Charged After Threatening Headteacher With Zip Ties Over Mask Rules
Three men have been charged after they barged into an Arizona elementary school and threatened to ‘citizens’ arrest’ a headteacher over mask-wearing rules, police said.
Tucson Police Department said the trio – only one of whom had a child attending Mesquite Elementary School – had been charged with trespassing following the incident, which unfolded after one of the men’s children was asked to wear a mask and quarantine after having been exposed to a positive Covid-19 case under state public health guidelines.
According to The Daily Beast, the father of the child, Rishi Rambaran, had gone to confront headteacher Diane Vargo with local coffee shop owner Kelly Walker as ‘backup’, with a third man, Frank Tainatongo, also showing up at the school.
Walker, who regularly promotes anti-vax and controversial views on his business’s Facebook page, livestreamed himself driving to the school, telling the camera that the school had ‘shoved a mask on [Rambaran’s son’s] face, wouldn’t let him call his parents, and now his dad is there… The school is blatantly breaking the law, blatantly going against the will of the people’.
In another video filmed by Walker and posted to Instagram, Rambaran can be heard on the phone with the police threatening to arrest the headteacher if they don’t, while Tainatongo stands in the doorway holding a number of zip ties.
The trio reportedly left after Vargo called the police on them, but were subsequently arrested individually over the next few days. All three have since been charged with misdemeanor trespassing, which could carry a sentence of up to 30 days in prison. According to The Daily Beast, Vargo and her assistant are also seeking restraining orders against the men.
While Walker has since deleted the Instagram footage of the confrontation, following the incident he posted a statement on his coffee house’s Facebook page claiming that ‘when this kind of coercion and bullying is perpetrated by school administrators, breaking the law, a citizens’ arrest is an option worth looking into’, adding, ‘If it’s legal, then parents have the right to consider it.’
The confrontation is one of a growing number of disturbing incidents over recent months that have seen school staff verbally and physically attacked by parents and local residents over their adherence to Covid-19 guidelines.
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