Our small Masquerade group morphed to 2,000 strong almost overnight. The number would be more, but we are often censored on Facebook and that makes us hard to find. Within our Facebook group there are about 20-30 individuals that are active and have stepped up as leaders. The others in the group that cannot show up for events or take a leadership role still play an integral role in our success. We rely on them as digital soldiers.
There are many call-to-action items that we ask of the group. One of the most basic and simple action items a group can do is to call your locally and state elected officials. Our action group has taken on the task of educating the public and school boards on the faulty science of mask wearing. We have initiated a task force to educate the public, address the school boards and city council, and we urge them to let the parents decide if they want to send their child(ren) to school in a mask.
Locally elected officials with a very brief description of their duties:
- City mayors: CEO of the city, ensures that the laws and ordinances are properly carried out
- City council: craft ordinances and develop policies
- County commissioners: responsible for roads and bridges, serve on commissioner’s court with the county judge
- Sherriff: can enforce law anywhere in county, swears an oath of office to support the Constitution
- County Judge: wide range of duties including head of emergency management
- School boards: adopt policies that guide the district, hire and evaluate the superintendent
Each of these elected officials have a process that citizens must follow in order to speak to them in person. It is always best to check your local government’s website and follow up with a phone call to make sure the website has up-to-date information. If you are new to an area or unfamiliar with these websites, you can find it here: Local Governments | USAGov. Use the drop-down menu for each state, and then you can narrow the search by city, region, county.
The governor of Texas issued an executive order on face coverings on July 2, 2020. The E.O. exempted certain individuals from wearing a mask including anyone younger than 10 years of age or any person with a medical condition or disability that prevents wearing. When school started in the fall semester, one local school district went above and beyond the governor’s order. This particular ISD required all school aged children, starting in PK-3, to wear a mask and would not accept medical or religious exemptions.
Due to this gross overreach of power from the local school districts, our team decided to focus on speaking at school board and city council meetings. The local school districts were set to make a statement about mask-wearing in school after our governor issued a press release stating that mask mandates would be rescinded on March 10, 2021. We knew that the local ISDs were meeting to decide on masking for the remainder of the school year. We had to jump at the opportunity to make our voices heard. In two days we planned a large rally on the lawn of the courthouse. Several news stations were notified by a team member and they showed up to interview parents and students. Also, our rally was featured on their social media and evening news. However, the attention did not end at the rally. The news stations continued to contact parents for interviews as each school district was voting on masks. One of the news stations that was following the situation with us showed up to one of the largest school board meetings where parents boldly spoke their minds about freedom and mask mandates in school. As one of our team members stated, “we do not coparent with the schools.” Masking in school is a decision that should be left up to the parents or guardian of the student.
When you organize a similar initiative with your group, keep in mind that the school board may have speaking and crowd limitations due to Covid19. Be sure and call your local school board and check the rules. In my town citizens can address the city council during the public comments at the start of each meeting. City council meeting times are posted on their websites.
Open meeting laws are governed by state, so please check your state’s law to know your rights in addressing the board. Usually meeting agendas must be posted on the agency website and public notice boards prior to meeting. The rule for advance notification of agenda items is also governed by state law. Citizens are not restricted to speaking about agenda items only. Citizens can speak about any topic they want. This forum is a great way to spread a message to a wide audience.
To have a successful presentation at the meeting:
- Know your subject, and state your reason for speaking.
- Look professional and speak intelligently (some meetings are live and recorded).
- Speak with passion.
- Practice your speech before the meeting, making sure you finish within the allotted time.
- Take a written speech or notes with you to meeting.
- Know your audience.
Do not be surprised if the board is not welcoming to you or your message. Don’t take it personally. They generally don’t like people with differing ideas. Remember, in most instances, your audience is the public, not the board. Your attendance will be a permanent part of the meeting minutes so please review the meeting minutes when posted. Contact the agency if a revision to the minutes is necessary. As citizens, it is our duty and right to protect our human rights. We must take advantage of all possible means to exercise our rights to voice our opinion.
As Americans we must exercise our right to petition our government without fear or trepidation. It is important to know who to call and when to call. To find out who represents you at your state level State Legislature Websites | Congress.gov | Library of Congress. Each state has legislatures made up of elected officials that create bills that have the potential to become law. During the pandemic governors in almost every state were making mandates or executive orders that were out of the normal process of law and quite frankly, usurped our constitutional rights. I needed a quick reminder on the process, and you might also. Each state varies on how it enacts laws, but here is the process for Texas in a nutshell.
Remember how a bill can die in a committee? Our team got to work contacting committee members in an email blitz campaign on HB3 in Texas hoping it would die in the committee. We also called our local house representative and left our comments against HB3 and then called the governor’s office. If the bill makes it to his desk he needs to hear that his constituents are not in favor! The bill is easy to track using this link TX HB3 | 2021-2022 | 87th Legislature | LegiScan. You can easilty track bills in your state using this link, LegiScan | Bringing People to the Process.
A few important take-aways:
- Know who represents you, put their number in your phone.
- Reach out to like-minded organizations for help.
- Enlist others to make calls or send email.
- Call yourself.
- Visit your state’s website to peruse legislation and become familiar with bills of importance and know who is on the committee for that particular bill.
- Like or follow your House and Senate representatives on their social media pages to keep track of what they say and which direction they lean on important matters.
Here is how this process worked for our team in real life:
If you are stuck and don’t know what to say use this as a cheat sheet or send an email.
What to say: Keep it simple
Me: Hi, I am a resident of —County and I am calling about HB3. It’s my understanding that it is still in committee. Is this correct?
Intern: Yes, and we have had so many calls about this today!
Me: That is good news! I would like to leave a comment. I voted for Mr. —– and I will vote again, but his response to HB3 will help me decide who I vote for. Please let him know that I am not in favor of HB3.
Make yourself heard, and you will retain your freedom.