JONESBORO — Two Valley View school teachers said they participated in Wednesday’s march to the U.S. Capitol to support President Donald Trump that turned violent.
But in social media posts, elementary physical education teachers Nancy Best and Cindi Talbot disassociated themselves from other marchers who were seen storming the Capitol in an attempt to overturn the presidential election, undercut the nation’s democracy and keep the president in the White House.
“I was there. ... Nancy and I made it all the way to the bottom of the scaffolding,” Talbot posted on Facebook.
Best said, “Where we were, as close as the foot of the steps, there was no violence that we saw. However, the crowd in front of us was being teargassed, and rubber bullets shot. I saw no weapons, and at one point the crowd was shouting, ‘Police stand down.’ There were many older people wanting their voices heard. I personally did not see who broke into the capital, nor where they went in at. The huge majority of the crowd was not violent.”
Steven Sund, the chief of the U.S. Capitol Police says the violent mob that stormed the building wielded metal pipes, chemical irritants and other weapons against law enforcement.
In a statement Thursday, Sund said the rioting protesters “actively attacked” police officers and “were determined to enter into the Capitol building by causing great damage.”
Superintendent Bryan Russell said Wednesday’s events puts the school in a “touchy situation” because of the politics and the coronavirus pandemic. But the teachers are not in trouble, even though they posted photos of the crowd huddled together without masks.
“We will probably have a conversation to the effect that they need to be sure when they come back to wear masks themselves and socially distance as much as they can here at school and try to stay away from folks at least six feet for another 10 days or so to make sure, and if they become symptomatic, certainly go test,” Russell said Thursday.
He said he doesn’t expect the teachers to quarantine before they return to campus.
“We had all kinds of people, during Christmas break, go on vacations and go to different areas of the country and gather with people, and we’re just taking for granted that they socially distanced and wore masks,” Russell explained.
He said he knows both teachers are good people and are careful to protect the children in their care.
Russell said he has heard from patrons on both sides of the political and health issue following the incident in Washington. D.C.
“Some people wanting me to know that they were there and they really support them having their freedom to go on their personal time and voice their opinion and go in peaceful protest,” Russell said. “Certainly no one, including the school district, would say that it’s OK to participate in any illegal activity, but we have not been notified of any illegal activity; they looked to be part of a peaceful protest.”
On the other hand, he said some callers questioned whether the teachers should be required to quarantine before returning to school.
“And then we’ve had a few that were just outraged that they were there and part of it,” Russell said. “They didn’t think anybody that was there should have the right to do that.”
Congress confirmed Democrat Joe Biden as the presidential election winner before dawn Thursday. Rep. Rick Crawford of Jonesboro was the only member of the all Republican Arkansas delegation to vote against accepting the Electoral College tally of votes.
Now, the Democratic Party of Arkansas claims the state’s Republican leaders should urge Crawford to resign.
Michael John Gray, the state Democratic chairman said Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who is the head of the Republican Party of Arkansas, and their chairman, Jonelle Fulmer should immediately seek Crawford’s resignation because his promotion of conspiracy theories about the presidential election will render representation in the First Congressional District irrelevant.
“Crawford has spent his last term in a race to the bottom for the sake of relevance with his base, afraid of alienating fringe voters,” Gray said in a news release. “Our leaders should step up and educate voters on real issues. Instead Crawford promotes conspiracy theories and encourages people to keep believing in alternate realities.”
Crawford was unopposed for reelection last year.
Though he criticized the violence via Twitter shortly after the insurrection began Wednesday, he had not responded to The Sun’s request Thursday for comment regarding the incident or his vote.