Japanese-American calls members of Mill River School District Board racists for rejecting pro-Asian flag

In June the Mill River Unified Union School District Board voted in favor of flying the Black Lives Matter flag over its campuses, but now an Asian-American parent wants schools to fly a flag to celebrate Asian lives, and the board is saying no way.

At the board’s Oct. 7 meeting, Brian McFarren, a half-Japanese resident, blasted board members for their unwillingness to give Asian Americans the same treatment as black Americans.

“After the Board’s decision to fly the Black Lives Matter and Gay Pride flags, I requested equal treatment to display a flag to represent Asian lives for my Asian-American kids in Wallingford Elementary,” he said during the Zoom meeting.

“But unlike Reese Eldert-Moore [daughter of Tabitha Moore, president of the Rutland NAACP chapter], I didn’t get a royal welcome. Instead, my Asian kids and my request for a flag were given the brush-off,” he said.

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McFarren, in an interview with True North, explained his reasoning for proposing an Asian flag.

“When they decided that they wanted to fly the Black Lives Matter flag and the Pride flag, to me it appeared to be a very quick and easy decision for them to make,” he said. “So I was just basically making a point by requesting the same because I have Asian kids.”

Over summer, during the board’s June 17 meeting, members approved flying the controversial political flags by an 8-1-1 vote. The decision affected schools located in Clarendon, Shrewsbury, Tinmouth and Wallingford.

McFarren, whose children attend Wallingford Elementary, said he intended to just drop the matter after the board rejected his request. However, he later saw a series of emails that board members exchanged about him and his request and became outraged at comments he is calling “bigoted” and “racist.”

At the Oct. 7 meeting, McFarren told the board: “Internal emails reveal that the Mill River school board actually investigated me to dig up reasons why they shouldn’t honor my request. That same day, Board member Liz Filskov had private conversations with board members John McKenna and Maria French, and said this about me: ‘People are getting out of hand – like there’s no established yellow lives matter movement or yellow flag that represents a movement. I don’t think Brian McFarren is Asian, but who knows, it sounds like he’s just being a dick.'”

He went on to demand that Liz Filskov resign from the board. He also said Board Chair Tammy Heffernan should “step down as board chair and recuse herself from any aspect of flag related issues.”

“In light of these shocking, unprofessional and bigoted acts, I have withdrawn my children from the Mill River system, and will not return them until the board demonstrates inclusion, respect, and equity,” McFarren said. “I’m consulting an attorney, and have not decided whether I will bring suit against the board for racial discrimination.”

McFarren told True North that the board has a history of being biased.

Tammy Heffernan and Liz Filskov did not return TNR’s request for comment.

Michael Bielawski is a reporter for True North. Send him news tips at bielawski82@yahoo.com and follow him on Twitter @TrueNorthMikeB.

11 thoughts on “Japanese-American calls members of Mill River School District Board racists for rejecting pro-Asian flag

  1. As a quasi-judicial body, the Mill River School Board is guilty of Content Discrimination.

    Perhaps the leading doctrinal concept in First Amendment free speech jurisprudence is the content-discrimination principle. It has been called “the central inquiry,”… “a critically important aspect of First Amendment doctrine,”… “central to contemporary free speech law,”… “fundamental to free speech doctrine,”… a “keystone to [the] First Amendment,”… “the touchstone of First Amendment law,”… “the most pervasively employed doctrine in the jurisprudence of free expression,”… and the “Supreme Court’s closest approach to articulating a unified First Amendment doctrine.”

    Justice Thurgood Marshall wrote in 1972: “[A]bove all else, the First Amendment means that government has no power to restrict expression because of its message, its ideas, its subject matter, or its content.” This statement was historic, as it represented the first time that the Court emphatically and explicitly emphasized the need for content neutrality.

    See Reed v. Town of Gilbert. In his majority opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas reasoned that laws are content-based on their face if they either draw distinctions based on the speaker’s message or define speech based on its function or purpose. He also noted that laws are content-based if the government adopts the law because of a disagreement with the speech’s message. He explained that “an innocuous justification cannot transform a facially content-based law into one that is content neutral.”

    • Not allowing an Asian Flag on public school property is consistent with the legal maxim on Content Neutrality. On the other hand, as a quasi-judicial body, the Mill River School Board is guilty of Content Discrimination if it allows Black Lives Matter or Gay Pride flags, no matter how socially relevant the causes are deemed to be. Read the ‘due process’ and ‘equal protection’ citations in the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.

      • Hi Jay..
        Interesting thing.
        We’ve got pretty much the same situation going on over here in Nashua NH.
        The town flag pole has flown several different flags that people have gotten permission to fly. Being owned by the town, a townsperson can fly one. Just go through the process and get your flag up there- is how it works.
        So someone just hoisted a “Save Women’s Sports” flag..
        It has been removed ahead of schedule and deemed “Transphobic”.
        And get this, the Democrat woman leading the effort to remove the flag made a comment about how the city was supposed to be “Welcoming”. Well, welcoming to who? who SHE Personally decides to welcome? what about the people that want to save women’s sports? its not welcome to them as it turns out. So they got a lawyer and it’s looking like a lawsuit is coming.

        I’m telling you this because it’s now becoming clear that what the roots of the issue are that these types of people are more into power and control than they are about ALL people trying to have their voices heard on any particular subject.

        If we are going down this road of using the town owned flagpoles to promote our ideas, then ALL ideas should be welcomed.. not just the ideas that they decide work for them.
        If a town owned flagpole (I think a school flagpole is town owned too) is going to be used as a “Community Bulletin Board” is used essentially, then all the town has to do is separate itself and make a statement that the people of the town own the flagpole and can fly what they want to fly, that flag is not necessarily the viewpoint of the town itself- or the school, if that is where it happens to be.

        • Correct.. If someone wants to fly a flag or post a sign in support of a specific point of view, they can do it in their own front yards, and their right to do so is protected by the Constitution.

          • This is called a “Citizen Flag Pole” that is located at the city hall plaza in Nashua.. this is the flagpole where this is taking place.
            Much like your case, it appears that flying certain flags is okay, others not so much.

            granitegrok.com has the article and the updates as this unfolds.

  2. This is just the beginning. State Representative “Brian Smith ” of Derby has introduced a bill that would prohibit any flags other than the United States and/or the Vermont State flag to fly on/at any public buildings. What a novel idea. Kudos Brian! Perhaps Brian or some other brave politician should introduce a bill that would prohibit the painting of anything /anywhere on public properties, (highways ,buildings, statutes, etc.).

    • Sounds like Brian is a common sense Vermonter instead of a

      Liberal doctrine induced flatlander.. and I whole heartily agree with

      his proposal “only American or Vermont Flags” *personally I’d like the green mnt boys flag as well, but I’ll concede that as my choice*.. and the leftist can give up their donation wing of the democrat party blm marxist unit…and the little Asian won’t have to compete with other POC’s.

  3. Don’t you ” dare ” fly a flag supporting your Japanese American Heritage,
    as it dosen’t sit well with the Liberal minds !!

    But they will let you fly a marxist BLM flag , yup Liberals in charge……yup,
    that says it all communism manifesto over capitalism

    So, vote these fools out and then fly your flag alongside the stars & strips.

  4. I actually posted on this topic as while ago. I said the same thing basically as the man that wanted his flag flown because this was so easy to see coming.

    This was back when we saw that giant BLM “Mural” (really it’s graffiti) on the road in Montpelier..
    I said “Why on earth do you want to go down this road? now you’ve done this for the people that support BLM, but what about all the rest of the causes? What about the PETA People and the Climate People? Are you going to paint up ALL the roads in Vermont so that everyone can pitch their ideas in this method? and how will you say no now that you’ve done this for one of them?”
    This is really the same idea as this flag situation.

    There is something that is really not penetrating the skulls of the policymakers/lawmakers here.
    Much as we parent, if you don’t have enough cookies to give every kid some cookies, then no one gets cookies because you cannot do for one what you can’t do for all.
    Nothing is a stand alone issue. If you go down this road, you can be sure that more will come and is this going to be good when that happens?
    If your aim is to actually Unite and not divide, then you wouldn’t even go there. It’s absurd to think that all people can fly their flags at the schools and paint the roads with their causes.

    To a lot of people, A cause is A Cause.
    Your cause might not matter me, but then I have a cause that does matter.
    So you can fly your flag and I can’t?
    Who’s Cause is more important than someone elses?
    Who gets to decide all of this?
    Just how many Causes should we all be bombarded with on a daily basis as we simply just try and live our lives and keep ourselves happy and in a good place mentally?

    This is one heck of a life we are creating nowadays for people. And you wonder why there is a mental health crisis.

    My final point to think on this.
    Just because you CAN, Should You?
    You can go ahead and change the world in your little corner of it yes, but do you all now want to live in the results of what you created?
    I point you to New York and California, which are literally evacuating right now with people fleeing the Results of what THEY VOTED FOR!!
    So again I ask.. just because you can do this stuff, should you?
    People seem really keen on running their mouths and making changes and then not so keen on then living with them- as the depopulation that many states are having shows us.
    To be forced live our lives in nothing but political warfare is really not healthy or much fun..
    And it’s certainly not good to force our kids to inherit the results of that.

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