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'Moms for Liberty,' 'Constitutional Sheriffs' Join to Probe Schools

In March, Coty Wamp, special counsel to the sheriff of Hamilton County, Tn., was campaigning for district attorney when she met parents from a group called "Moms for Liberty" (M4L). Wamp said she set up a meeting between the "parents' rights" group and the sheriff's office because she thought law enforcement could help the group in banning books, reports Slate. Wamp won the district attorney's office and was one of the earliest law enforcement figures to begin to establish a new alliance between far-right sheriff's offices and the right-wing parent's group. Much of this alliance emerged during the pandemic when far-right parent groups opposed masking in schools. Wamp didn't shy away from the possibility of filing charges for "criminal" books, although she clarified she did not intend to suggest she was going arrest librarians. Facebook has been a major forum where parents pass around information about the so-called constitutional sheriff movement, which has transformed into an anti-public-school movement focused on altering classroom curricula. Their goals were to eliminate material about racism, sex, and LGBTQ people, increase the policing of classrooms and eliminate requirements for vaccines and masking for COVID-19.

While M4L has been accused of harassing local school board officials with emails, calls, and threats, it has lately begun to approach county sheriffs as a way to legitimize its grievances and gain traction in criminal courts. One strategy is bringing criminal complaints to sympathetic sheriffs, which become “sex crime” investigations, further spreading the QAnon-influenced anxieties that children are being recruited or brainwashed by sex predators. In the spring, Jennifer Pippin, an M4L chapter chair, filed a criminal complaint against a Florida school for failing to remove dozens of books flagged by the members as inappropriate. In an email, Pippin told a school board member that she was focused on “all of the books currently in the libraries that have sex, rape, drugs etc. in them that need to be removed immediately so they don’t get into the hands of any more students in our district.” The six-week investigation resulted in a 74-page report that concluded that “no crime occurred.” Other sheriffs have conducted similar investigations into so-called dirty books, and while no criminal charges have resulted thus far, they indicate that going to the sheriff is an accepted strategy.


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