STERLING, VA – Loudoun County School Board Member and Democratic Nominee for Delegate, Atoosa Reaser, issued the following statement following reports of violence, threats, harassment, and intimidation.
In recent years as political violence and intimidation have continued to rise, we have repeatedly seen hateful rhetoric and attacks directed at students, educators, community members, and elected officials – often further flamed by partisan media and political actors. This pattern is unacceptable and undercuts our duty to serve the many critical needs of our community.
Yesterday’s violent attack on neighboring Congressman Connolly’s staff illustrates what happens when this rhetoric is allowed to persist unchecked. My thoughts are with the Congressman and his staff as I wish them a full recovery; the only positive that can possibly come from this incident is increased attention to the harassment and intimidation members of our community face regularly and a commitment to de-escalating this dangerous trend.
In my capacities as both a school board and community member, I have and will continue to unequivocally condemn these and all instances of violence, harassment, or intimidation wherever they originate. Recent stories which attempt to affiliate me with similar alleged events despite no one from my staff participating are examples of partisan media attempting to further inflame this situation.
Sadly, for the past several years, Loudoun County has been at the epicenter of this ugliness. Here are just a few incidents: one high school graduate gave public comment about wanting to die after being bullied for being LGBTQ and an audience member shouted “we don’t need you” in response. A student school board member was brought to tears by audience members who jeered her remarks. Former students and school board members were seemingly told they should be drowned.
As a community, we must work together to lower the temperature of our discourse. As someone who has been on the receiving end of death threats, I know firsthand how harmful these comments can be to one’s mental health, family, and wellbeing. I implore everyone in the community to tone down the rhetoric and put the best interests of our children, their families, and our country ahead of politics.