As reported by The Daily Wire, Rochester, New York, father Chad Hummel was arrested last week and charged with criminal trespassing at his son’s high school baseball game after he refused to put on a mask, even though the game was outdoors and he was far outside the recommended six-feet social distancing guidance.
Hummel spoke to The Daily Wire on Thursday and offered context to the arrest, arguing that he has been specifically targeted by the school due to his past pushback against arbitrary COVID guidance and critical race theory curricula affecting his children.
Hummel, who is an attorney, also provided evidence to The Daily Wire showing that the school district has outright banned him from campus until June 30. The ban means Hummel is not allowed to even watch his kids’ sporting events from his vehicle or drop them off outside the school. The ban stretches mere days after his son, a senior, is set to walk across the graduation stage, another moment Hummel will miss.
Even more troubling, Hummel told us that his son, who started and played in every baseball game and scrimmage prior to the mask incident, is curiously being benched for away games, which are the games Hummel can attend, while playing his regular amount at home games, the games Mr. Hummel is banned from watching.
Hummel told The Daily Wire that late last month he and other parents were on an introductory Zoom call with his son’s varsity baseball coach when the school mask policy was raised. The coach told parents and guardians that they were required to wear their masks at all times, even outdoors. Hummel jumped in and argued that school guidance doesn’t jive with such a requirement and that signs around the school specifically say masks must be worn only when you cannot maintain social distancing. The coach said he would get back to Hummel, and presumably spoke to the athletic director, Kyle Vacanti.
Notably, months before the mask incident at the baseball game, Hummel says he and his wife were shouted down by Vacanti for not wearing masks at his daughter’s outdoor cross-country meet while they were social distancing.
“We got shouted down by the athletic director,” he said. After they refused to put on their masks, Vacanti told Hummel and his wife that if they didn’t leave the park “he was going to force us to leave.” Hummel says he reminded the AD that the park was public property, and Vacanti backed off.
Two days after the Zoom call, Vacanti sent out a lengthy email to some 400 parents, presumably to those of students participating in spring sports. The letter emphasized that masks were required at all times and parents were going to be expected to submit to a temperature check and a COVID screening sign-in when they came to any athletic event.
Hummel responded to the email: “I sent a pretty lengthy response right back to the athletic director and I documented all of the actual guidance that he was claiming to be following. I documented the New York State Department of Health guidance; I documented the New York State Public High School Athletic Association guidance, the executive orders issued by [New York Gov. Andrew] Cuomo that state that you don’t have to wear masks when social distancing, I documented the New York state code of rules and regulations that came out of the public health law that say the same thing.”
The night before the baseball game, Vacanti emailed Hummel directly, essentially telling the father that if he were to show up on campus unmasked, he would be forcefully removed.
“Please understand that you are required by New York State Department of Health regulations and the East Irondequoit School Board of Education policy regarding face coverings to wear an appropriate mask while in attendance at any school event on school grounds,” the email said. “This and other rules and regulations must be followed. If you refuse to comply with the mask rule or other rules, then we will have no choice but to remove you from the event.”
“It didn’t matter that I cited all of the actual guidance and provided copies of it,” Hummel said. “They were going to do their own thing.”
Hummel also told The Daily Wire that he has in the past fought against a book he and other parents found inappropriate that was going to be taught to his 7th grade daughters. The school backed down, apologized, and abandoned the content.
Hummel said he and his wife went to the game on May 1 without their masks and intentionally spaced themselves at least 150 feet away from anyone else in attendance.
The spacing didn’t matter, though. Within five minutes, Hummel was approached by a man named Jim Carroll.
Carroll told the couple to put their masks on. The Hummels refused and said they were following guidance and asked Carroll to leave them alone. The estimated three-minute-long discussion ended with Carroll calling the Irondequoit police.
“They approached me and my wife; they really kind of just approached me. Both officers directed their attention right at me and then one of the officers takes the lead and says, ‘Let’s cut to the chase, are you gonna leave or am I cuffing you?’ I said, ‘Well, why would you be cuffing me?’ And he said, ‘Okay, turn around.'” (Note: Hummel said he was paraphrasing to the best of his recollection.)
They then arrested Mr. Hummel.
Banned by the District
Days later, Hummel said a letter was dropped off to his house informing him that he was banned from the district campus. The father noted that he lives on a private drive, and the person who delivered the letter telling him he was banned for alleged criminal trespassing ironically trespassed on his property.
The letter notifying Hummel of the ban, which is signed by Superintendent Mary Grow, states in part:
This letter is written to notify you that you are prohibited from entering or remaining anywhere on East Irondequoit Central School District property or attending school district events from May 3, 2021 until June 30, 2021 … We are taking the step because of your recent violation of School Board policy 2090, which requires students staff and visitors to wear an appropriate face covering at all times went on school property unless authorized to remove the mask during a mask break when social distancing is maintained.
This ban applies not only to our school district buildings, but also to all parts of campus, including parking lots, driveways, and fields. It also applies to our school district events. The ban will remain in effect until June 30, 2021. … Please understand that your unauthorized presence and school district property or school district events in violation of the aforementioned conditions will be considered to be trespassing and will be reported to law enforcement.
Motion to Dismiss
Hummel has made a motion to dismiss the criminal trespassing charge, which he says is absurdly heavy-handed and overreaching. The judge did not deny the request but asked this week that it be made in written form.
An attorney himself, Hummel expects the excessive charge to be dropped from criminal trespassing to a lower level offense of trespassing by the time he’s due back in court on June 2.
“Obviously, not wearing a mask is not an unlawful act; there’s no crime; there’s no statute; there’s no way to charge somebody,” he explained.
And if and when the charge is either lowered or dropped, he will likely sue the district for violating his civil rights, he told us.
Message to the District
Hummel’s message to the district is simple: offer a public apology and the necessary resignations, or he will sue.
“The message to the school district is simply this: I could have a pretty substantial civil rights lawsuit when my criminal case gets dismissed,” he said. “But I’m not in this for the money. I don’t want their money. If they want to issue a public apology to all of the people that they’ve been heavy-handed against, and if a couple people want to publicly resign, I’ll give them a full release of my lawsuit that I could bring against them once my criminal case is dismissed.”
If certain people resign, including Superintendent Mary Grow, Hummel emphasized that he will gladly drop his intention to sue — but the choice is in their hands.
“They can keep the money; I don’t want it. If they don’t want to resign and they don’t want to issue a public apology, then they’re going to make that decision for me. They’ll give me no choice; I’ll have to bring a lawsuit against them. It’s that simple.”
Message to Other Parents
Asked about what Hummel might want to say to other parents who are at odds with their school district, he said he’s hopeful his actions encourage others to stand up for what they believe in.
“I want my message to be what my action was — I had the opportunity to walk away and not be arrested. But I wanted my message to be what my actions were, and that is to show people that if this is what we have to do to fight back, to submit to being arrested, then this is what we have to do.”
“I don’t want anyone to have to go through this,” he continued. “I don’t want any other individual to miss out on what I’m missing out on right now. Hopefully, my submission to this arrest will be the catalyst that will break free for everybody else, so that they don’t have to get arrested.”
“Look, it’s time to do something. I’m not telling you to go get arrested — it’s not for everyone,” he quipped. “But you do have to find something to do and fight it. … If one of you goes out and fights just one thing, realize that there’s a thousand people that you’re fighting for, and if the other person goes out and fights another thing, then that’s something that another thousand people wishes that they could do; everybody just has to find their one thing, right now.”
“This was my one thing and I did it. Now everybody else has got to go find their one thing to fight back against — either critical race theory, mandatory vaccinations — you know, go find something and fight for it.”
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