Lauren Pefferle: Oregon teacher comes to school in blackface to protest vaccines
Anti-vaxxers are getting louder, and more creative when it comes to protesting mandates. The latest to do so is Lauren Pefferle, a special education assistant at Mabel Rush Elementary School in Newberg, Oregon. On September 17, Pefferle showed up to school in blackface and claimed she was Rosa Parks, before being placed on administrative leave. The incident came to light after one of Pefferle's colleagues revealed the incident to the media on September 20.
Despite the proof that vaccines are safe and effective, anti-vaxxers have firmly refused to get jabbed, leading to a surge in cases and deaths. Over the past year, they have also been increasingly vocal about their beliefs. In January, a group of anti-vaxxers stormed the LA Dodgers stadium, forcing the vaccine site to close temporarily. Then in May, Virginia Brown of Maryville, Tennessee drove her car through a vaccine site, yelling "no vaccine". In August, Matt Barker's speech at a San Diego county meeting went viral, after his bizarre rant.
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Going back to Pefferle, the Oregon assistant was not identified by the school district, which did acknowledge the incident. "The administration of Newberg Public Schools condemns all expressions of racism," they said, Pefferle was identified by a fellow staff member, who wished to remain anonymous. At the heart of the matter is Newberg's vaccine mandate for all school staff.
Who is Lauren Pefferle?
Like most other people who make headlines for their antics, Pefferle appears to have taken down her social media profiles. We couldn't find a Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn profile in her name, so there's not much we know about her. There are also no other news reports about her, beyond her blackface incident. The school district has also addressed the incident with its own lengthy statement.
"Last Friday, one of our employees reported for work in Blackface. The employee was removed from the location, and HR has placed the employee on administrative leave," they said. Superintendent Dr Joe Morelock also weighed in, saying, "I am horrified, angry, and ashamed that this happened, as is nearly every other staff member. The students of color in Newberg deserve so much more." However, the statement never identified Pefferle, and instead condemned her actions and focused on the district's inclusiveness.
BREAKING: A staff member at Mabel Rush elementary school in Newberg showed up to work in Blackface on Friday, allegedly saying she was dressed as Rosa Parks and protesting a vaccine mandate for teachers.— Ryan Clarke (@RyanTClarke) September 20, 2021
Statement from @NewbergSchools on the latest racist incident: pic.twitter.com/J1HHc2X9wl
A colleague of Pefferle's opened up to CBS affiliate KION and identified Pefferle as the person responsible. The colleague said Pefferle darkened her face with iodine, and claimed to be Rosa Parks "and have her actions serve as a protest of a vaccine mandate." However, that protest didn't last very long as she was removed from the school shortly after showing up. It's unclear if she is being investigated, or if a police complaint has been filed. Neither the district statement nor the KION report indicates what could happen to Pefferle in the future.
The incident is just the latest example of racism at the Newberg school district, which was recently at the center of a Snapchat "slave trade" controversy. The board has also recently made headlines for attempting to ban political symbols like pride flags and BLM displays. The repeated controversies have turned Newberg into a major battleground, with activists wanting Newberg school board vice-chair Brian Shannon recalled.