Vancouver Public Schools officials confirmed on Friday that the Skyview High School, Alki Middle School, and Chinook Elementary were put in lockdown after members of the far-right Proud Boys tried to gain access to school grounds, according to witnesses. The school went on lockdown after members of the Proud Boys attempted to escort a freshman seeking a medical exemption into the building. That student has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety, according to her mother. She requested an exemption from the school’s mask mandate because she said the mask can trigger panic attacks.
Patriot Prayer, a far-right group led by Southwest Washington’s Joey Gibson, and other far-right activists made posts online incorrectly claiming that a student at the school who did not want to wear a mask would face arrest if they entered school grounds. Parents of other students at Skyview joined the anti-mask protest, holding signs and calling for the student to be given a medical exemption to mask requirements. Nearby, teachers and students held signs supporting masks.
One video posted online showed a group of people outside the school chanting “U-S-A.” Several people in the crowd were wearing black and yellow clothing of the Proud Boys, a far-right group best known for their participation in the Jan. 6 insurrection and for inciting violence during protests against anti-fascists. The student’s mother said her family was neither anti-vax nor anti-mask, explaining that the rest of them wear masks. It was unclear why her exemption was denied, but the school system does continue to offer distanced learning for students who either don’t want to or can’t comply with the mask mandates.
Proud Boy with MAGA hat saying a ‘Patriot Prayer’ with student about to attempt to enter school in Vancouver, WA without a mask in defiance of policy.
This. Is. Disturbing. On. So. Many. Cringy. Levels.(NOT A PARODY!) pic.twitter.com/SCfgJqfaSy
— Ron Filipkowski (@RonFilipkowski) September 4, 2021
VPS school board president Kyle Sproul said locking down the schools was the proper decision to ensure student safety. “Regardless of one’s stance on mask mandates, I think most parents in our community agree that protesting at our school campuses and disrupting the school day is not in the best interest of students,” Sproul told Oregon Public Broadcasting.
Yesterday, Proud Boys trespassed Skyview High School in Vancouver WA, as a political stunt for a fascist who's running for school board.
Tiny Toese led the charge of Proud Boys onto school grounds and triggered a lockdown.
He was in gang colors, wearing a Proud Boys perry. pic.twitter.com/06f9VQl8IQ
— Camas Defense Alliance (@CamDefAlliance) September 4, 2021
The Vancouver incident eerily echoes a similar protest in Vail, Colorado, where three men entered a local school with the intent to tie up the principal with zip ties.
This really happened…! pic.twitter.com/AJGQT2o23U
— #TuckFrump (@realTuckFrumper) September 4, 2021
The Vancouver demonstrations at times became vitriolic. Security guards at Skyview said some of the protesting women called female students derogatory names.
There is an ongoing anti-mask right-wing protest going on in North Vancouver at Skyview High School, which started small and has now attracted open white supremacists who are encroaching school property.
Video taken by a friend on scene, not my own. pic.twitter.com/rxXL4TrvgI
— Triss Winters (@TrissWinters) September 3, 2021
Teachers and faculty at the schools guarded doors inside the building during the lockdown, while security guards addressed the Proud Boys. One student compared the lockdown to school shooter drills and said some students were harassed by the anti-mask demonstrators outside the school building. He and his friends went around distributing masks to other students to counterprotest the anti-vaxxers.
1/ Today we saw white supremacists, proud boys and antigovernment extremists invade a high school campus in Vancouver, WA, flashing white power signs and one wearing a skull mask.
It was coordinated, led, and will happen more and more often unless it’s shut down.
They put 🧵 pic.twitter.com/TfBlH1JjxN
— KⒶrmⒶ🏴🏴 /// Ⓐrchivist /// "DMCA: **FAIR USE**" (@KarmaOneSixOne) September 4, 2021