Public forum turns violent as vigilantes attempt to silence protester

May 05 - Only two of the seven officially nominated candidates for the South Lane School District School Board attended a public forum organized by the political action committee "Kids for Success": Tina Murphy and Duane Taddei.

Shiloh Glaspell, a last-minute write-in candidate, unexpectedly attended the gathering and was asked to participate. Even though Glaspell stated she wasn't interested in running as a write-in candidate for any particular board position, the forum's organizer, Ibra Taher, still allowed her to sit at the candidates' table.

There were two demonstrators outside holding signs that read, "No Bullies, Love Diversity" and "No Haters on School Board."

Taddei stated at the opening remarks that the reason he is running is because the current school board is attempting to "quiet a teacher". The school board's irritation with constant public criticism is Taddei's gripe with the district. Since he believes in paying a living wage, Taddei, a longtime union leader at his place of employment, said he would not want to contract out district jobs.

The teacher Taddei was referring to is Bryan Parsons from London Middle School. Parsons has repeatedly signed up for public comment at previous school board meetings to speak against the district's support for trans students as well as the Oregon Menstrual Dignity Act, which mandates that menstrual products be available in both boys' and girls' bathrooms. Additionally, Parson asserted that transgender "ideology" indoctrinates kids with the notion that "their bodies are their enemies."

Taddei also noted that he wants to be a mediator between administrators and voters. Murphy said students are not being taught right and schools need to be safer with an armed safety officer.  And Glaspell said she wants schools to protect our children and she wants to be an advocate for students who aren’t fitting into the normal groups.

Tina Murphy, who has already received the support of the PAC hosting the forum, claimed she had no idea if the district's budget "was good," despite the fact that she had missed the district budget committee meeting the night before the forum where she could have learned more about it. Murphy bemoaned the budget's non-consumables but admitted she had no idea what they were. She also favors contracting out some employee and teacher positions.

Glaspell responded to the question, "What is your opinion about sexually explicit materials for young children in school?" by stating that she was against the banning of materials and that it was preferable for kids to learn through books rather than social media. Murphy, on the other hand, asserted that if children are not exposed to sexual content, they will somehow stop thinking about sex.

The Oregon Department of Education's published rules instructing schools not to disclose a student's preferred pronouns to the student's parents at the student request was the subject of a question near the end of the event. Parsons, the lone audience member who was permitted to read his own question, inquired as to whether the candidates concurred.

Unless there are threats of physical danger at home, according to Murphy, parents should be notified of their child's pronoun choice. If students don't feel safe at home, Glaspell stated, they must feel safe at school. Taddei expressed his significant worry over hormones administered to 12-year-old trans children after stating that a student's pronouns should be notified to the parents.

As an audience member, Venice Mason, yelled out that Taddei was spreading trans lies while holding her arms up and giving two thumbs down, the tension in the Shepard Room at the Cottage Grove Community Center quickly increased.

Video shared by The Chronicle on April 27 from a ceiling camera in the room where the forum was held, depicts two men, identified as Richard Secord and Dale Gangl approach Mason, surrounding her, and they are seen whipping her arms down in an attempt to silence her. Glaspell, is then seen approaching Mason and being pushed away twice by Secord and Gangl.

A chaotic scene then erupts as other women who come to the aid of Mason and Glaspell. Community member Amy Merryday can also be seen stumbling to the ground in an attempt to help break up the altercation. Footage of the incident can be seen here:

The clash brought the forum to an abrupt halt, so, there were no closing statements. According to Interim Police Chief Groth, there was only one Cottage Grove police officer on duty who was called. A medic was also dispatched for Mason, who was hurried out of the forum and taken to the local emergency room but later reported to be in.

Witnesses who spoke with CGPD after the brawl reported that the officer on the scene didn’t take any of their statements about the incident. It was also reported that the officer on duty, although not legal counsel, stated that he believed an assault had not taken place. Taddei later concurred stating he did not see an assault but that there was “something going on”.

Those who otherwise felt harmed or beset by the incident are now looking for justice in the matter.

The regular SLSD board meeting reconvened on Monday, May 1 for their regular session, though no items on the agenda specify items related to the forum, it may surface during public comment or future agenda items. As of press time, the SLSD has offered no comment on the incident however, moved the Monday meeting online to Zoom, due to perceived threats.