Two mothers arrested at school board meeting for not wearing masks, carrying scissors

Police arrested two women in two separate incidents before the Gwinnett County Public Schools’ school board meeting last week in Georgia. A spokesperson for the county confirmed that the two were taken into custody prior to the meeting and have been charged with criminal offenses.

The two women were Suwannee resident Brenda Stewart and Snellville resident Karen Pirkle. Pirkle had previously been restricted from Gwinnett County Public School property after an incident regarding face masks at a board meeting in October.

“The arrests were not about masks or their refusal to wear them. The one individual had received a criminal trespass warning based on behavior at last month’s meeting. As a result, she is not allowed on any GCPS property,” said school district spokeswoman Sloan Roach. “She violated that by attempting to come to the meeting.” 

Roach said the second incident occurred as Stewart rushed through the new metal detectors in the county, and she was then stopped by officers. “During a search of her bag,” Roach said, “scissors were found. She was told she could not bring those in. She grabbed for the scissors, struggling with the officer.” Pirkle and Stewart were charged with criminal trespass and obstruction of a police officer respectively. 

The arrests took place just prior to the first meeting that Gwinnett County Public Schools required that all attendees go through a metal detector and security screening before attending public meetings.

Those additional protocols were put in place as safety measures following several months of protest and heated debate. Some parents argue the measures are a waste of money and an effort by the district to prevent them from protesting, but the school board says they are intended to ensure the safety of participants who want to keep meetings civil.




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