Arlington Police have opened an investigation into threatening messages sent to multiple school committee members Wednesday in response to a controversy surrounding the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in the schools.
Arlington Police Captain Robert Bongiorno would not specify which school committee members the messages were directed toward, but he said some of the email messages were anti-Semitic.
“The messages are offensive, and hateful and potentially criminal,” Bongiorno said.
Police launched the investigation as school officials blasted what they said were incorrect reports by Fox News this week that the School Committee had banned the pledge of Allegiance in Arlington schools.
“It is unfortunate that the national media has chosen to distort this very serious debate in a manner, which so badly misinforms the public,” said School Committee Chairman Joseph Curro in a press release Wednesday. “Recent reports have done little to present the facts about our school system and our community, and have been seized upon by many people throughout the country to target our dedicated school leaders with unwarranted hate mail and threats.”
As the Globe reported Wednesday, Controversy about the recitation of the Pledge in Arlington Schools began last week when Arlington High School Senior Sean Harrington requested that the pledge be led each day at his school. The Pledge has not been said at the high school for years, and the School Committee voted 3-3 on a motion that would have required a daily, but voluntary, recitation of the pledge to be led over the intercom. Because of the tie vote, the motion failed.
School Committee members said they would look into enacting a pledge policy this summer, and Tuesday Arlington High School Principal Charles Skidmore told the Globe he would lead the pledge in the school’s auditorium every morning before school for students who wished to say it. Harrington said he still wants the pledge broadcast into each classroom.
But in a telephone interview Wednesday, Curro said that following incorrect Fox News reports that Arlington had banned the pledge, School Committee members have been receiving messages from “all over the country.”
Curro said “a couple” of the messages sent to other committee members included “indirect threats” and one comment said the committee should go to North Korea where their throats would be slit.
“It sure felt threatening to me,” Curro said.