At least two school board members from a district in Illinois attempted to walk out on a Bosnian immigrant speaking against the district’s decision to keep in place a mask mandate for students and staff, despite a recent ruling from an Illinois circuit judge approving a temporary restraining order on the policy.
The man, an immigrant from Bosnia, was speaking about his family’s experience fleeing genocide for America. While he was warning about creeping authoritarianism, which he said started with a clamp down on speech, video shows commotion among parents and the board.
According to Daily Wire reporter Virginia Kruta, who has children in the district and attended the meeting; video evidence; and local reporting, two school board members got up to leave the meeting, allegedly to cut off the father and start a “closed session.” After parents erupted, the school board president reportedly told the board members to sit back down.
“Thirty minutes into the meeting, where public comment was on the agenda, board members tried to go into closed session,” KMOV4 News reported. “Two board members even tried walking out of the meeting until the board president told them to sit down. After parents realized the board was trying to go into a closed session, they argued back and forth for several minutes, some even yelling.”
“This gentleman immigrated from Bosnia under threat of genocide when he was in 5th grade. The CUSD unit 10 school board attempted to gavel out the meeting while he was speaking,” Kruta said.
The father recalled his horrifying experience in Bosnia, warning that the crackdown on his people “started with simple things, like taking away your right to speak and to say the things that you want to say.”
“It was the simple small things, because you couldn’t walk down the street and tell your neighbor how you really felt, because your neighbor might rat out on you,” he said. “And that’s where we’re at right now, we’re starting to see that.”
“Secondly, they forced every one of us to register our guns,” he continued. “I was very young, but I have vivid memories of the Serbs coming in and beating my parents, beating my mother, doing many other things to many other women.”
“So, I came over here and started out in 5th grade,” the dad said. “I was always the person to stand up for my principles, so I’m starting to teach my child to do the same thing.”
Then video shows two female school board members take their jackets from their chairs and get up to leave the meeting — as the father is still speaking. One parent can be heard yelling, ‘Shame!’, and another yells, “Hey, where are you going?'”
The father continued through the distraction, applauding another parent at the meeting who spoke before him and read from the U.S. Constitution. “I fell in love with this country,” he said. “My favorite subject was civics, U.S. history.”
“There is no land of opportunity like there is here, and I’m just one person to say that. And you know, there are 60,000 of us in St. Louis, that are here for a reason, not because we want to live the way we lived in the 90s [in Bosnia], in fear of what’s next,” he said. “This is becoming way too political and way too tyrannical. There’s absolutely no reason for this. None.”
“I have to say one more thing, and it’s simple: We all want to be civil, and we all want to do this the right way, but I’m telling you, if you do not stop complying, you will lose everything that you have,” the father warned, met with applause from parents.
“Stop complying,” he said through a standing ovation. “Stop complying.”
This gentleman immigrated from Bosnia under threat of genocide when he was in 5th grade. The CUSD unit 10 school board attempted to gavel out the meeting *while he was speaking.* 1/2 pic.twitter.com/TEN6tPRola
— Virginia Kruta (@VAKruta) February 8, 2022
[Note: Caption on the following tweet fails to add that the members tried to leave, but eventually sat back down after protest.]
Several members of the board got up and walked out before he finished. 2/2 pic.twitter.com/cDVhQFo9ut
— Virginia Kruta (@VAKruta) February 8, 2022
As KMOV4 News noted, Collinsville is keeping the mask mandate in place for all children, except for the students who are named in the applicable lawsuit. Collinsville and Edwardsville, both in Metro East, are applying the ruling to only students named in the suits.
Superintendent Mark Skertich claims he’s merely operating on legal advice he’s received. “We spoke to our legal counsel and got their advice,” Skertich reasoned. “In their opinion, the TRO [temporary restraining order] only applied to the five families named as plaintiffs, so that is what we had honored that TRO based on the circuit court.”
The Daily Wire reached out to the Collinsville school board but did not receive a response in time for publication. Any response will be added to this post.