"The scene in Franklin was only the latest display of resistance against covid-19 precautions coming from the streets of small cities and the desks of politicians alike," wrote The Washington Post of the below chaotic scene showing a Franklin, Tennessee school board meeting erupting in chaos over a new mask mandate for local elementary schools.
"We know who you are! We will find you and we know who you are..." angry parents told a health expert who had been called in to testify in support of masking up children to start the school year. "You can leave freely, but we will find you."
Anti-mask demonstrators heckle masked people (some of whom are Drs/nurses) leaving 08/10/21 #Williamsoncountytn #schoolboardmeeting following one man to his car and shouting “we will find you” & “we know who you are” @WilliamsonHmPg 1/2 pic.twitter.com/u8wbdfr3Xj— Matt Masters (@formvscontent) August 11, 2021
A large crowd of parents after the chaotic meeting were chanting as school board members and supporters of the mandate left the meeting: "Will not comply!"
"There’s a place for you guys — there’s a bad place in hell," another parent was heard yelling. "You will never be allowed in public again."
The Williamson County Board of Education meeting had reportedly dragged on to nearly four hours amid tense debate over the mandate to wear masks until at least Sept.21 at a moment of growing fears over the COVID-19 Delta variant. The board voted 7 to 3 in favor of masks in the classroom and on the bus.
One of the pro-mask experts at the meeting, Meredith Duke, a surgeon at Vanderbilt University Medical Center - who also has children at Williamson County schools, told a local news affiliate that she was directly threatened: "There were people screaming and threatening me, and I just couldn’t believe it." Other school board supporters said the scene was "hard to fathom". Inside the meeting nearly a dozen parents spoke before the board on either side.
"Take that mask off!" another woman is seen shouting toward school board members in the video. The crowd also charged school authorities for being "child abusers" for enforcing the masks.
Another video showed local law enforcement attempting to calm the crowd of parents outside the meeting venue... "keep it peaceful," they urged.
2/2 Williamson County Sheriff's Office Sgt. : "I am begging ya'll to be peaceful" -hundreds of protesters earlier-School board voted to require masks for elementary schools until 9/21/21. FPD also on site. #williamsoncountyschools #franklintn @WilliamsonHmPg pic.twitter.com/Mic8zfXFZC— Matt Masters (@formvscontent) August 11, 2021
In the end some among the pro-mask school board officials and those testifying on their behalf had to be escorted out of the parking lot by police, especially as protesting parents began to surround one man's vehicle, as seen in the video.
Likely similar scenes will be witnessed in other parts of the country as debate intensifies and as schools move closer to the start of the school year, with many just a week away, and also as standoffs between local and state authorities come to a head - Texas and Florida being prime examples.