Arizona father confronts elementary school principal to protest COVID mandates
The Arizona father recruited two friends to attempt a citizen's arrest at his child's elementary school
A 40-year-old Arizona father was arrested on Thursday after ambushing an elementary school principal in her office, with a friend wielding plastic handcuffs, because the principal was enforcing a mandatory mask and quarantine mandate on his child who came in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19.
The dad, who police identified as Rishi Rambaran, stormed Mesquite Elementary School principal Diana Vargo’s office with two other men in an attempt to make a citizen’s arrest after he claimed Vargo broke the law by asking his child and six others to adhere to the school’s policy for those exposed to COVID-19.
One of the men, Kelly Walker, was asked by Rambaran to come along “in case he needed backup,” and live-streamed the incident on Instagram. The livestream has since been taken down.
The other man, who has not been identified, blocked the exit from the office while holding a fistful of “law enforcement-grade” zip ties, according to Walker.
Arizona Governor Doug Ducey signed a law in July, defying CDC recommendations, in which the state “does not allow mask mandates, vaccine mandates, vaccine passports or discrimination in schools based on who is or isn’t vaccinated.”
However, the state Supreme Court said that the rule was against the law and schools can continue to mandate masks.
“I can tell you the end result of that incident was we did make one arrest for trespassing,” Sgt. Richard Gradillas of the Tucson, Arizona Police Department told the Daily Beast.
This recent attack is just another incident of unwarranted attacks by disgruntled parents trying to defy school policies related to COVID-19.
Last month in California, a parent assaulted a teacher after being told that their child had to wear a mask in the classroom. The teacher was left with lacerations on his face and a knot on his head.
The surreal encounter in Tucson happened after someone in the school caught COVID-19, and administrators reported it to the Pima County Health Department (PCHD).
According to the PCHD website, which outlines procedures and policies to prevent the spread of the virus that align with the CDC guidelines, students who have come within six feet of someone who tested positive for COVID must quarantine at home for at least a weak and wear a mask.
The county also requires the names of persons who were exposed to someone testing positive for the virus. Rambaran’s child and six others were asked to oblige after being exposed.
“I’m headed to Mesquite Elementary School right now, where a friend just notified me and some others that his son was indiscriminately taken to the office to be quarantined because supposedly someone had decided he, but not other kids in this classroom, were exposed to COVID,” said Walker, known as “Reese,” during his livestream of the incident.
The father of five and owner of a local coffee shop in Tucson, has a history of aligning with far-right, COVID conspirators. He recently hosted a meet-and-greet at the shop with Dinesh D’Souza, a far-right author and convicted felon, who claims the Chinese may have spread COVID-19 as part of their “master plan” for world domination.
Next month, Walker is also set to host Matthew Lohmeier, a disgraced former space force lieutenant who was fired for publishing a book supporting white supremacy, propagating fear of an impending “white genocide” and alleging that a “communist dictatorship” may overthrow the U.S. government.
“And they shoved a mask on his face, wouldn’t let him call his parents, and now his dad is there,” continued Walker in the video. “[T]he school is blatantly breaking the law, blatantly going against the will of the people. I think this community has expressed that they’re not going to have this kind of bullying of our kids, these kinds of scare tactics.”
Once the trio got into her office, Rambaran attempted to get the principal to reverse the quarantine order. In the now-deleted video, he can be seen calling the police.
The group then threatens to perform a citizen’s arrest if Rambaran’s child is not allowed back in the school.
Vargo asks the men to leave the premises but they refuse. She then leaves the office and also calls the police. Two hours later, Rambaran was arrested but was released shortly after.
Sergeant Gradillas said he has “never seen a citizen’s arrest” in his 14 years on the force.
Vargo did not respond to a request for comment.
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