Who is Steve Daniels? Arizona Patriot Party leader arrested at critical race theory protest
CHANDLER, ARIZONA: The far-right has never been happy about schools teaching critical race theory. Such is the backlash over this that it has resulted in the arrest of an Arizona man on Wednesday, June 9, 2021.
Steve Daniels is a member of a right-wing Arizona group that has protested closures following COVID-19 regulations and school equity programs. He was reportedly arrested on Wednesday outside the Chandler school board meeting after a disturbance.
According to the latest report in the Arizona Republic, Daniels was arrested on suspicion of criminal trespassing after a school representative and police officers asked him to leave the district office and he refused. The debate around critical race theory continues.
Who is Steve Daniels?
Steve Daniels is the chair of the Patriot Party of Arizona. He was one of the key figures in rallies to re-open Arizona and end the pandemic restrictions. As per reports, Daniels also helped run the US Senate campaign of Daniel McCarthy, who was defeated by a nearly 3-to-1 margin in the Republican primary by Martha McSally.
Daniels later had also taken to YouTube to share a video of the exchange between him and the school representative and police officers. The video shows several community members outside the district office protesting the use of critical race theory in the classroom.
The arrest comes as many parents and conservative groups have reportedly challenged school boards across the state on diversity and equity initiatives, as well as mask policies.
In the video, Daniels complains about not being allowed inside. "Apparently they’re not going to let anybody into the meeting," he says in the video and later states that people have to wait outside for their turn to speak during public comments. "I’m pretty sure based on open meeting laws they need to allow everybody in here to watch."
Daniels and an unnamed woman get upset after allegedly not being allowed into the meeting. "These are tyrannical police officers that don’t know the law and they are protecting the tyrannical government," Daniels tells the crowd. "They’re using force on me," he says in the video and accuses an officer of assaulting him.
According to the AZ report, Daniels has been involved in the Purple for Parents movement and has attended school board meetings in Litchfield Park and Scottsdale to address the topic. Many in the video can be heard saying that the right to free speech is violated as officers placed Daniels in the car.
Opposing critical race theory
According to the report, "Critical race theory seeks to highlight how historical inequities and racism continue to shape public policy and social conditions, but critics often conflate it with culturally responsive teaching or any diversity and inclusion efforts in K-12 schools."
Several parents and conservative groups are challenging school boards across the state. And while critical race theory is not on the board's meeting agenda, they openly addressed the issue.
In an announcement near the start of the meeting, Board President Barb Mozden reportedly said the district is "not teaching critical race theory and neither the board nor administration has discussed implementing critical race theory in the curriculum." Her statement was included in the board agenda that was posted online.
"Critical race theory has not been on our agenda and is not on our agenda this evening," Mozden said. "If you have concerns about classroom instruction, we encourage you to let our schools or district office know so that we can look into the matter." According to the report, the board heard public comments from community members for almost an hour but those outside including Daniels wanted to get in.
The newspaper has reported on the Arizona Patriot Party's evolution from sharing racist memes on Facebook to becoming a force in Arizona politics.