Mill River community mounts 500-strong opposition to BLM, LGBT flags at public schools

More than 500 members of the Mill River community have signed a petition against flying Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ flags at school campuses that make up the Mill River Unified Union School District.

The schools in the union are located in Clarendon, Shrewsbury, Tinmouth, and Wallingford. The union school board approved flying the controversial flags in an 8-1-1 vote during the board’s June 17 meeting.

Watch the board discussion in the video

Art Peterson, a local resident seeking office as a state representative in the Rutland-2 district, disagreed with the decision, and helped create and circulate a petition against flying political flags at the schools.

“A group of us felt that something that important would require more than a unilateral decision by the school board,” he told True North. “We felt that the public needed to weigh in on it, and that wasn’t done. So we started the petition, circulated it, and got an awful lot of signatures.”

The petition urges the school board to present the issue to voters by Australian Ballot and to call a special meeting to address questions from the community.

Peterson said he started the petition because he doesn’t think the Black Lives Matter and Pride Flags represent all of the community.

“I think these flags will be divisive in the community and will do nothing but politicize and sexualize our kids’ education,” he said.

Todd Fillmore, a resident of Shrewsbury who also opposes flying political flags at schools, says the Vermont Constitution prohibits advocacy-oriented flags from being flown on public property.

“A common concern expressed was the clear lack of objectivity in actively promoting controversial political ideas on public school properties,” he wrote in a letter sent last week to board members.

Fillmore’s letter adds: “In a remarkably forward-leaning display of support for these two specific causes the MRU School board shrugged off those legitimate concerns, and seemingly abandoning all pretense of neutrality, simply pressed forward with their plan to display and promote these flags on public property in support of two narrow groups, or subsets, of the community. This act is nothing short of political endorsement of specific political groups to the exclusion of others. This sets a dangerous precedent.”

According to Article 6 of the Vermont Constitution, “government is, or ought to be, instituted for the common benefit, protection, and security of the people, nation, or community, and not for the particular emolument or advantage of any single person, family, or set of persons, who are a part only of that community.”

That language, Fillmore argues, prohibits schools from supporting political groups.

Kirsten Eriksen, another parent who opposes flying the flags, told True North the flags promote segmentation and division into groups. She also said the culture at the school is hostile toward students with conservative views.

“It’s reverse racism and that’s what’s concerning to me,” she said. “I have children that have been discriminated against in the school system because of their beliefs, and I have a friend who’s child had a MAGA hat on [but] it got knocked off their head. … I don’t feel like our children are safe with conservative views in such a liberal environment.”

But Adrienne Raymond, one of the school board members who voted to raise the flags, said for her it’s not about the Black Lives Matter organization, but the message on the flag.

“I will clarify one thing. The board supported flying the flag that states the message that black lives matter,” she said. “We did not vote in favor or, even in thought of, the Black Lives Matter organization.”

The student who put the request to the board during the June 17 meeting is Reese Eldert-Moore, a 17-year-old student who recently completed her junior year at Mill River Union High School. Eldert-Moore’s mother is Tabitha Moore, president of the Rutland NAACP chapter.

According to Eldert-Moore’s letter to the board, minority students are being harassed in Vermont schools.

“This is very important and valuable not just because MRUUSD has Black and brown students, I being one of them, but because we are dying,” she wrote. “The maltreatment of Black and Brown people is a pandemic that is killing us — some slowly through issues like health disparities and stress and some quickly like bullets to the bodies of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery.”

Tammy Heffernan, chairwoman of the board, also voted in favor of flying the political flags. During the June 17 meeting, she said “there is injustice that needs to be addressed.” She is working on an equity policy that Eldert-Moore requested, which will include a “zero-tolerance” policy towards racism.

The next school district board meeting, to be held at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, will be open for public input on the flags. Board members have proposed flying the flags during the first week back at school in the fall.

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

Image courtesy of Michael Bielawski/TNR

43 thoughts on “Mill River community mounts 500-strong opposition to BLM, LGBT flags at public schools

  1. I am appalled in hearing that a school district voted to fly a flag belonging to a hate group, i.e. BLM. The left wing fanatics have infiltrated our schools and are teaching and brain washing our children. This has to stop. Please petition the school board to resign. Please have folks with common sense and decency who love this country to run against these leftists and stop the damaged that they are causing. Do it now! I would further request that folks start marching and camping in front of these board members home to let them know we are no longer going to tolerate this.

  2. Three HUGE cheers for the Mill River 500!!!!! It’s refreshing to see that there are some same folks left in Vermont who will stand up and be counted. UPWARD AND ON WARD!!!!! Hope springs eternal.

  3. I am the person who alerted TNR to this issue, and I am the author of the letter to the school board which is linked in this article. The primary reason I contacted TNR was that I received no response from either VT Digger or WCAX after submitting details and a copy of my letter submitted to the MRU School Board. Worse, when I followed up with a phone call to WCAX, the Television News Producer Brett Miller openly mocked me and called me a racist and homophobe. Seriously. I think this would come as a surprise to my two black friends as well as a number of gays who I am on very friendly terms with. I left a message with his superior but never heard back.

    I also submitted my letter and cover statement to the online Front Porch Forum, but was rejected by them as well, The irony here is extreme: The details of LGBTQ lifestyles are too controversial for an adult online forum, but apparently are considered appropriate to indoctrinate 4 and 5 year old kids.

    I am the custodial grandparent of a 7 year old child in this school system, and I am most displeased.

    My takeaway in this experience is that anyone who even politely dissents from the preferred narrative is immediately marginalized and scorned, even if their arguments are respectful and based upon constitutional guarantees of equitable treatment before the law.

    I would urge all who comment on these issues to remain respectful, as I have been informed that some of the knee-jerk reactions to letters like mine are due to the prevalence of what can too easily be labelled “hate speech.”

    Keep it civil folks, but keep up the pressure. All voices need to be heard.

    • It takes bravery to put oneself out there for the leftwing mob to insult and mischaracterize. The ones who do all the namecalling are cowards – it’s easy to speak with one voice among friends and those we agree with but to face this hateful mob while speaking the truth and upholding our rules and laws is brave.

      Looks like ya came to the right place 😀 Thanks for putting this out there for all to see what a vast echochamber of censorship all news in VT is just media is VTs very own Pravda and oh-so boring.

    • Thank you for putting yourself on the front lines – it’s hardly a surprise that digger, wcax and fpf acted the way they did – those are the types they hire.

      I take exception, however, to the whole ‘hate speech’ issue. There’s no such thing – there’s only free speech (that’s not libel or slander). Those who don’t like the fact we have the right to speak our minds rejoice in the fact they have corrupt people (governors, AGs, LE, etc.) locked and loaded to stifle our fundamental First Amendment Right.

      Who’s the arbiter of what constitutes ‘hate speech’? Is it forbidden to criticize Maxine Waters because I’m not black? Joe Biden because I don’t have dementia? Ilhan Omar because I’m neither muslim nor Somalian?

      The term ‘hate speech’ was invented by people who have neither the education nor the ability to counter inconvenient facts with free speech of their own. I swore an oath to protect and defend our Constitution for two decades, and I neither acknowledge nor accept any attempts to alter it.

    • An excellent and important post from Mr. Fillmore. He has exposed the media’s interest in promoting its own agenda as opposed to reporting the actual important community news that Vermonters want and need to know.

      Also, a tip of a hat to TNR for not following the news media herd and instead taking up Mr. Fillmore’s news tip that has resulted in an important news story. A news story that goes well beyond the Mill River School district to the entire State of Vermont, all of which is facing the same pressures and challenges.

    • I led the successful fight to return the Pledge of Allegiance to two public schools. My greatest ally was public pressure from ACROSS the country. I posted to every politically conservative organization I could find on Facebook, that I needed their support. To this end I provided contact phone numbers for the school board members and the school involved. I reminded those who would call to be respectful but to express an opinion as a concerned American even though they may reside outside the jurisdiction. The response was huge and resulted in my appearance on Fox & Friends, interviews by both the Burlington Free Press and the Boston Globe and phone interviews with radio stations across the country. The landslide of calls took about two weeks for the effects to be felt and both schools and school boards relented and the Pledge was returned. Put the contact phone numbers out there and the expressions of public support will amaze you.

    • Local 22/44 banned me from their FB page for stating that Bernie is going to pass one of the most lenient abortion bills. They called me a liar and banned me from posting. I don’t watch any local news anymore because it is all liberal BS.
      I’m also disappointed that my attorney, Tammy Heffernan would support such discrimination against her own race.
      What I find so sad is a parent,Tabitha Moore, that has brainwashed her 17 year old daughter and uses her to fulfill her own racist agenda. That should be illegal.
      I applaud all the people that signed that petition. I wish Rutland City parents would have stood up for what is right. You don’t honor one race with flags, painting of streets, etc. It does not belong in our public schools and it only divides us more.
      I had heard that a member of BLM went to the Rutland High School administration and told them they wanted that flag put up. A friend told me he was in one of the Mac’s Gas Stations and a few BLM members came in and asked to hang a “black power” sign in the store. When the owner told them “No, All Lives Matter”. They gave him the finger and started yelling at him. This is a violent liberal group and we shouldn’t be entertaining them. They are very dangerous.

      • Oh, and one more thing, when asked if they would fly the POW flag, Rutland City School District Administration would not allow that flag to be flown. Priorities are really screwed up.

    • Mr. Fillmore, the vast majority of people who comment on these issues are respectful.

      But I think you’ve zeroed in on a major problem.

      It’s the problem of who gets to label speech as “hate speech”. For far too long, especially in folksy ol’ live-and-let-live VT (man, did they see us naive woodchucks coming and capitalize on the opportunity), a certain element has pushed various agendas with impunity and gotten away with it by labeling any dissenting opinion as “hate speech”. Locals with good hearts and good intentions instantly back off because they don’t want to be perceived as jerks. What has that achieved, honestly? Appeasement only emboldens.

      Most people who are speaking up now have reached the point where they don’t really care what is labeled “hate speech” since they recognize that anything they say will be labeled “hate speech” no matter how respectful it is.

      Personally, I’m always respectful of differing opinions. It seems to me that those who label differing opinions as “hate speech” are the biggest “knee-jerk reactionaries” of them all. They want a silver bullet or magic incantation that will automatically shut down any conversation and they’ve certainly found it.

    • They will quickly ban you from many sites, it has nothing to do with being civil. The better and more convincing argument will have you removed very quickly. They did this on Front Porch forum, totally removed. They will shadow ban you on facebook/twitter and you won’t even know it. VT Digger before they stopped all commentary had a slew of reasons a perfectly gentle and respectful post would not reach the light of day. VPR screens their call ins, so only those they wish see the air waves. The debates will totally be framed to the positive of those in office that have an undying affection for the new world order.

      If you are a state employee or tied to that state in anyway and speak up respectfully, they will publicly hang you. The modern day lynching is done by firing you from your position. See the most recent of our principal that was so respectful. There are examples across our state every 6 months. This is not much different than the romans who would put you on the cross road side for all to see. Comply or die.

      Vermonters are afraid and unwillingly to speak up because of these tactics. It’s not about healing and bringing people together, it’s about compliance.

      How many Trump signs do you see in our state? How many political signs in general? Go to NH and you’ll see all sorts of signs. Vermont has the most oppressive and online the most hateful rhetoric in our country.

      It’s a serious problem, more so in a country that is supposed to defend freedom and free speech.

  4. Over the years many people have started petitions on to have BLM labeled a terrorist organization, but they keep getting taken down. You can put up a petition to have the KKK or PETA named terrorist groups but not BLM.

  5. Not a word about the Mill River flag petition in the Brattleboro Reformer, Bennington Banner, Ruthland Herald, Valley News, Seven Days, or Burlington Free Press either. The Rutland Herald has a story about how the BLM flag was promoted. Even a Google search and Bing search (using the TNR headline) doesn’t list the petition issue…anywhere.

    Is it any wonder our citizenry is uninformed?

    P.S. Seven Days has a story – Absentee Ballot Requests Exceed Vermont’s 2018 Voter Turnout

    “We are very hopeful that we will continue to see this increase,” said Secretary of State Jim Condos. “As I’ve always said, the more people that vote the better our democracy is.”

    How to get the conservative word out…. that is the question.

    • Did the petitioners submit their story to any of the Vermont news organizations? How did TNR hear about it?

  6. Blacks killing blacks is a far greater problem than police killing blacks.

    If the police were defunded, and would disappear, blacks killing blacks would become a national epidemic.

    If black lives mattered, why have traditional black leaders not stepped up to the plate DECADES AGO, to clean out the criminal elements that are killing other blacks, in THEIR black communities?

    WHY NOW?

    Black leaders have been derelict all these years, many decades.

    Why do BLM marchers engage in chaos, violence, destruction of public and private property, burning, looting, when the police is not even around?

    Are these dysfunctional BLM marchers hoping to make friends this way/promote their cause?
    Are these dysfunctional BLM marchers hoping to create fear, which would result in ill-considered actions?

    Why are NATIONAL AND STATE DEM/PROG leaders encouraging this off-the-charts chaos, violence, etc, by “taking a knee”?
    Are they doing it for political advantage?

    There are a lot of SANE people, aka, the silent majority, shaking their heads.
    They will not be voting for any Dem/Progs

  7. The VTDigger has filled its pages with stories about racism in Vermont……Yet not a word mentioned about the Mill River School matter by the VTD that I can find.

    Has anyone seen anything on the VTD related to Mill River? Does anyone think it a little odd that given the VTD’s intense coverage of the question of racism that this story would be ignored?

    This is a serious matter that high lights the need for multiple news sources to address the biases that permeate the media these days. The VTD would of course deny any bias in its reporting. But, we know from the VTD’s own reporting that biases are often implicit and even unknown to those who are bias.

    Implicit bias turns to explicit bias when overt actions are taken by the media to silence differing voices, which is exactly what the VTD has just done by eliminating it comments section and the +/- rating system for comments……..Systems that generally challenged what the VTD was saying in its news reports and commentaries.

    What is now happening in the Mill River School district runs contrary to the narrative of racism that the VTD has presented……So it is ignored, sort of like how it decided to ignore those commenting in a challenging way on its reporting.

    • Did you notice that VT Digger shut the comments section when more and more people started to criticize BLM?

      • No more comment on articles
        No more comments on Commentaries

        That means fake news/biased news posted by favored entities will not be vetted by comments.

        Will mail-in elections coming up, there will be lots of chaos.
        No one will be allowed to comment.

        This smacks of official mind control, a la 1984.

        VTDigger should pledge to take no donation greater than $100.

        If it does, I would again contribute, but only if longer comments, say 5000 characters, would be allowed.

  8. If BLM really cared about black lives, they would be doing something to stop the 95% of blacks killed by other blacks.

  9. When will parents realize that the government schools are tools of the radical socialists/Marxists? Pretty much all the destruction that is happening in our nation can be tied back to wrong-headed ideas being pushed into the heads of children via the government school system. The important thing to understand is that it is not because the public school system is broken, but rather because it is operating very much according to its design. Year after year complaints, like this get made, but it just gets worse. Parents act like they have no choice, but the reality is there are lots of options. The issue is not a lack of choice, but misplaced priorities. If your children are a top priority, you will not send them to be educated for 13 years in schools that operate with wrong-headed curriculum. The curriculum problems are well documented for decades now, only wilful ignorance can explain why people do not know. Here is a starter for options: I would be more than happy to talk with any parent about options. There are tons and if we are to save our nation, step one is getting our children out of these wrong-headed centers of indoctrination. Make education of children a priority.

  10. Brilliant and timely move, Art.
    When the people are given an opportunity to be heard, it says volumes about how out of touch these leaders are.
    Being armed with the facts and all of the info is a winner every time.
    The education sector of VT government is structured to make things terribly complicated and difficult to understand. Thusly, making it easier to pick the taxpayers’ pockets. Rutland Herald’s front pager this AM tells what the fruits of that folly are. This story will be played out all over the state; the 2nd generation effect of Act 60 passed in the late 90’s. This Act was promoted by non other than Rutland County’s Sen Hooker plus a number of like minded law makers at that time. Sen Hooker stated at that time “It is time towns like Rutland Town pay up”. So we have paid and paid and paid; for what? Stay tuned folks, it ain’t over yet.

  11. I’d rather see a Confederate flag than these two but it’s your state. Isn’t there one brave soul who will take them down and burn them?

  12. Perhaps they should be sliding the United States constitution? Perhaps they should study American history? Perhaps they should learn what liberty and Justice for all means. Perhaps they should study propaganda and how statistics and facts are used to distort the truth? Perhaps they should be studying the foundation upon which western civilization is founded?

    Or they could continue their current studies in how to protest.

    Vermont educational system needs a complete reboot. Keep the teachers, buildings start with some better books and administrators.

  13. Story is epic that a brave school district is putting students first – hopefully enrollment rises – seems like an inspiring message to send.

  14. National news story decrying the people of the Mill River community for being racist white supremacist neo-nazi pedophile cannibal arsonists in 5… 4… 3… 2…

    Once that story runs on CNN, milquetoast pussy Phil Scott will appoint a diversity czar specifically for that school district at $100K+ who will lecture the locals on how they’re awful. Being the true wet fart that he is, he’ll do it wearing his face diaper.

    And then he’ll pull a Freudian slip and blurt something about how Bloomberg’s people didn’t give him a ton of money to push that gun legislation, apropos of nothing.

  15. We are talking about kids and young adults that need to feel accepted and protected… that’s what our job is as adults. Isn’t that what you all want for your own children? A flag doesn’t change one bit how you live your life! But it speaks volumes to others! Let’s just all come together and support one another despite the difference in live style!

    • They can fly any flag they choose – at their own home. On public property, built and maintained by taxpayers, we should have the Stars & Stripes and the VT flag. Children and some parents need to learn to accept the word ‘No’.

    • This is not about flags, BLM or racism – but self-important white ppl attempting another feel-good fest tand it’s all about you – not “the children”.

      BLM is an admitted Marxist organization which has stated they wish to destroy the family and our nation – so the joke’s on you.

      And no – we are talking about a bunch of selfrighteous, full of themselves, haughty horses-a**es. It’s always about “the chidren” however all of you are exploiting the children by using them as human shields to protect your own belief system and ideological fantasy world where you’re always right, your word is the only and final word.

      Anyone who dares disgree is shouted down, bullied and attacked, insulted by overgrown children, and dismissed as racists, sexists, homophobes or all of the above – if they’re lucky. Because not-so-deep down inside is the heart of deep-seated hatred and rage which can only be reconciled by attacking those who disagree with you and accuse others of all that you and ilk in actuality are it’s pure projection at it finest.

    • This is political and being pushed by a violent racist organization called BLM. This should not be anywhere near our taxpayer funded schools or children. We have done more than enough in an attempt for equality for the black race. Give them an inch, they then want a foot, and it never ends. Enough is enough. The white race is being made to look like criminals for OUR skin color. I haven’t done anything to deserve this treatment and I’m tired of watching the Republican party and the white race behave like cowards.
      God for bid we really used our white power and stopped spending our money in stores that forgot who put them where they are today. Look at Burger King, for example. Go on Hawk Newsome, the BLM NYC leader’s Twitter account and you will see the company where they purchase the Impossible products tweeting support for Hawk and BLM. As much as I love the Impossible Burger, I will never go to BK again.

  16. By this precedent, then, it should be OK to fly Blue Lives Matter, and White Lives Matter flags too.
    How about All Lives Matter? No, that would be raycisssss…..!

  17. Injustice cannot be properly addressed by elevating a double standard of equality!

    The only flags that belong on the Mill River flag pole are the American flag and the Vermont state flag, period.

    How can we properly educate our children in what our country and state are about, when we are willing to deviate from the principles enshrined in the symbols of our flags which apply to everyone?

    Raising a competing symbol to elevate a cause of some above others, would only seem to confuse that commitment which applies to all of us and foster division rather than unity!

  18. Next thing on the school board’s agenda will be to demand that the American flag be places UNDER these political statements or worse yet will ban our flag totally. What gets me is that I strongly believe that ALL lives matter, but that sentiment is a no no. Don’t understand why because that slogan INCLUDES blacks.

  19. but…but…but wait…how could this be?? We’re enlighten here…woke even. This makes them raciest…fascists, they might even be Klansmen — right? OFFWITHTHEIRHEADS…eat their children.

  20. Great, it sounds like we have 500 level headed people in the state
    not using our schools for a scam agendas………….

    Do Black lives matter, not really just look at the ” blood letting ” in Chicago,
    NYC and other liberal run Cities, wake up people !!

    • Really – it’s mostly black lives including children who are being killed by the agenda of avowed America-hating Marxist Black lives Matter

  21. There should be no political sloganeering in any public or private school.
    Students are there to learn, not to waste time demonstrating.
    Stop wasting hard-earned education dollars on extraneous issues.

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