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Durbin: The Senate Must Be United in Condemning Threats of Violence Against School Boards

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today spoke on the Senate floor about the escalating violence and threats of violence against teachers, school officials, and school board members across the country.  In October, Attorney General Merrick Garland directed the FBI and U.S. Attorneys’ Offices to reach out to state and local law enforcement to address threats of violence made against school board members, teachers and workers in our nation’s public schools.  In his speech, Durbin underscored the difference between free speech and violence or threats of violence, and commended Attorney General Garland for being willing to stand up and keep our schools safe.

“It's every parent's right to voice their disagreements with members of the school board, and it’s only natural that at times, emotions may run high. That is part of open debate in a free society,” Durbin said. “But there is a difference, a clear difference which we should never overlook, between free speech and threats of violence.  We need to be unequivocal in drawing that line.”

Durbin went on to call out the dangerous apathy Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans have shown in reaction to these reports of violence.

“Instead of condemning violence, some of our Republican colleagues have been railing against the Justice Department for even suggesting there is a possibility.  Why?  Do they believe these incidents of violence and threats of violence are acceptable, that they shouldn't be taken seriously?” Durbin asked.

Durbin continued, “Here in the Senate, we should be united as well in saying that violence and the threat of violence have no place in public life, whether in a federal building, on an airplane, or at a school board meeting…  We need to at least have the common sense and common courage to speak up, and we need to support members of law enforcement who are doing everything they can to protect all of our families.  Among our many freedoms in America is our freedom to live without fear.”

Video of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here for TV Stations.