Florida official followed, told to ‘beg for mercy’ for supporting masks in schools
A Florida school board member spoke out this week about the threats and harassment she and her family have experienced as a result of her support for having children wear masks in schools.
Jennifer Jenkins, a member of the Brevard County School Board, spoke with CNN’s Brianna Keilar Thursday about a clip of her recounting the harassment she’s experienced at a school board meeting that went viral earlier this week.
“The people who are involved in this are a minority of voices. The majority of voices here in Brevard County support me, and I believe agree with the things that I agree with,” Jenkins told Keilar. “But unfortunately … it just takes a minority to terrorize you and harass you.”
Jennifer Jenkins, a Florida school board member, says she is being harassed for supporting masks on campus.
— New Day (@NewDay) October 14, 2021
In the clip of Jenkins that went viral earlier this week, she described being followed around in her car, being told to “beg for mercy” and even having child protective services falsely called on her by those who disagree with her stance on masks.
“In spite of what people believe, I am not opposed to people practicing their First Amendment rights, even when it’s outside of my home on a public property,” Jenkins said in the video. “What I reject is this effort to create fear and division in the community that leads to credible threats of violence against me and my family.”
“I reject them saying that they’re coming for me, that I need to ‘beg for mercy,’ ” Jenkins said later in the clip. “I reject that when they are using their First Amendment rights on public property they’re also going behind my home and brandishing their weapons to my neighbors, that they’re making false DCF [Department of Children and Families] claims against me to my daughter. That I have to take a DCF investigator to her playdate, to go underneath her clothing and check for burn marks. That’s what I’m against.”
Jenkins told Keilar that the issues with the people harassing her didn’t just start with masks but began festering when they found themselves on the “losing side of the Democratic process.”
Jenkins explained that the Republican incumbent she defeated for the school board spot refused to accept her defeat and had encouraged her supporters from “day one” to express their disdain for Jenkins.
“I think it’s the most useless and silly form of trying to motivate me and any elected official because to be perfectly honest with you, it doesn’t work,” Jenkins said, noting that the harassment only motivates her to stand firmer in her convictions.
The school board member’s comments come as Florida continues to crack down on school districts that decide to enforce mask mandates. Florida’s Board of Education last week voted unanimously to sanction eight districts that mandated masks without giving parents the option to opt out.
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