Now passing for light entertainment in Monroe County, New York, as elsewhere, the arrest of a parent at a school board meeting is winding its way through the legal system and pinging the news cycle. Where this particular little event differs from similar others is that the parent who was hustled into a police vehicle isn't content to simply escape with her head still attached.
The parent, a regional radio host, and a noted vaccine-skeptic, Shannon Joy, contends that her arrest was a set-up in what sounds like third-world democracy shenanigans. She held a press conference recently to announce a lawsuit against the County of Monroe, the Monroe County Sheriff's Office, the Fairport Central School District, and more.
The success of Joy's legal case hinges on too many variables that could play out against her, but for that reason, the case is a springboard for a many-faceted conversation. Joy's arrest, for instance, pits her against several easily villainized adversaries.
The specifics of Joy's arrest, as she alleged in high-profile fashion with an appearance on The Megyn Kelly Show, are these:
The school board meeting at which Joy was arrested was, from the outset, noticeably different from previous others. There were roughly twenty-five red-shirted activists in attendance from a suburban-version BLM group. Also adding to the uniqueness of the meeting was that Joy was being filmed from the moment she entered the room. When interviewed by Kelly, Joy elaborated on what transpired next:
"The mask was over my nose the entire time. The only time it came underneath my nose was when I took it down to put a piece of gum in my mouth, and at that moment, that's when Mary White, who was a school board member, signaled to security and other members of the board that they wanted to go to recess. They then went to recess, and I was told by the arresting officer that they called 911 and requested specifically that Shannon Joy be arrested."
When I ran into Joy in November at a protest against vaccine mandates, she summarized for me the apparent winning logic of her case. She told me then:
"There were multiple other parents who had their masks below their noses, including the superintendent of the Fairport School District, Brett Provenzano. We have a photograph of him in that meeting with the mask below his nose, below his chin, actually. And I was arrested by police officers who were not wearing masks."
For any adversary who would dispute Joy's summary of the meeting, Joy looked to be very much in the right when her case initially came to court. The case was dismissed in the interest of justice—at the request of the prosecutor. However, Joy wasn't entirely satisfied with the win, considering that her rivals had successfully caused her to be arrested and humiliated. And so we have the new lawsuit.
The new lawsuit colors Joy's arrest as retaliation for opinions she'd voiced about the defendants. Joy has charged the defendants with, essentially, an orchestrated conspiracy to interfere with her right to attend the meeting—a set-up.
As far as Joy's opponents, tied in with the Fairport School Board and its superintendent Brett Provenzano, as mentioned, is a suburban-version BLM group, Black In The Burbs. They're a group that has, in addition to whatever other liberal opinions they harbor, a fairly liberal attitude toward de-platforming adversaries. They've expressly stated on Facebook their wish is that Joy be "banned from school board meetings," and also that a Facebook group sympathetic to Joy be banned from Facebook. Despite their alleged involvement in the arrest, Black In The Burbs seemed to be left out of Joy's legal complaint, except perhaps for this reference:
"Approximately twenty (20) persons who were known to support Defendant School District on various parental issues, and known to oppose Plaintiff's viewpoint, and known to be hostile toward Plaintiff were in attendance at the School Board meeting, upon information and belief, at the specific invitation of Defendants School District, Provenzano and Board Members."
I inquired about the activist group in a question-and-answer session that followed the press conference. I asked Joy whether she thought she'd been targeted over politics— considering a BLM-type group was present and allegedly aligned with the School Board against a political conservative—or if the arrest was more a practical issue, of a school board siding with what they judged to be the more formidable faction. Joy's answer suggested the arrest was less political than evidence of an over-reaching bureaucracy:
UncoverDC: Because it sounds like Black In The Burbs was sort of involved in that (arrest), is it just easier for them (the school board) to side with Black In The Burbs and against you, or are there politics involved?
JOY: I think more than political, it was a response to dissent and an outspoken parent who was organizing.
Joy's contention that the war against people who refuse to comply is "more than political" and is an idea I'll come back to.
Circling outward from the persons involved in Joy's arrest is legacy media in Rochester.
When Joy held a press conference in July 2021 over an entirely different incident of intimidation—that time at the hands of contact tracers accompanied by police sent to her home to deliver an order of quarantine—she tweeted that although all local media outlets had been notified of the press conference:
"Our local news media have COMPLETELY suppressed the story. Half didn't show up— @News_8 @DandC @SPECNews1ROC And the ones that did—REFUSE TO RUN THE STORY!!!! @13WHAM @news10nbc—Shameful."
Joy's press conference this month came with its own drama. An editor for Rochester's alt-newspaper/entertainment guide, David Andreatta, thought it worthy of investigation that the local Republican Party had emailed/disseminated the press release about Joy's press conference. Andreatta wrote in an article:
"News reporters across Rochester received a press release from the Monroe County Republican Committee in their email inboxes on Thursday morning. That normally would not be considered unusual. Local political parties of all stripes routinely issue press releases about matters involving their organizations and candidates. What was unusual, though, was that the release was sent on behalf of the conservative Rochester radio personality Shannon Joy and advertised a press conference she was staging later in the day."
If it doesn't sound like there's a crime there, nonetheless the Monroe County Republican Committee promptly lifted its ass in the air to receive its beating; party advisor Jack Merritt wrote a letter of apology for the distribution of Joy's press release, and he was then put on administrative leave. Todd Hallidy, a WHAM talk radio anchor, ostensibly on the republican side of the aisle, joined the pile-on. Hallidy tweeted in agreement with Andreatta that the republicans had erred:
Only if you keep in mind that the battle is "more than political," as Joy said, does it make sense that an ultra-liberal paper would align with the local conservative talk station. Joy is an obvious target for both newsmen for the type of story she covers. That news is perfectly encapsulated by one of Joy's recent interviews: Joy interviewed George Watts about the death of his son. An autopsy proved death by COVID-vaccine-related myocarditis.
But to make it extra plain that the Rochester media isn't innocently skipping over heroes of the "We Won't Comply" brigade, we can take the recent case of Dave Calus.
If viral video of Calas' school meeting arrest has escaped you (Kimberly's Revolution Daily Show - Webster, Where Life is Worth Getting Assaulted see 20:30 mark), you should watch it. In the video, the seated figure of Calus was grabbed by his coat by a security guard, who pulled Calus' coat off in the process of removing Calus from the room. The chair Calus sat in was then dragged backward until Calus could be pushed out of the chair and out of the room. Calas' crime was not wearing a mask.
I'd first heard Calus interviewed on a regional podcast accompanied by his attorney, Chad Hummel. Joy was joined at the press conference by Calas and Hummel, who had legal updates to announce. Hummel is effectively lawyer-of-choice for parents arrested at Monroe County school board meetings. I had a chance to interview Calus minutes before the press conference began.
I asked Calus about his turn in the national spotlight, as well as the strangeness that locally, his story was only picked up by Spectrum News, which is a cable news channel and not as watched as the network affiliates:
UncoverDC: How does the video get picked up? Is it that the video goes viral or that your appearance on Kimberly's Revolution (Podcast) goes viral?
Calus: The video went viral first, I believe. Kimberly's Revolution was a coincidence because Chad is my lawyer, the podcast studio is in the same building, so when the video went viral, Kimberly asked. When I went in the day after the incident, "Would Dave be willing to come on air?" and I said the only way that I would do it is if Chad was with me. Once people start asking questions about the legality of everything, I would prefer Chad would handle those questions.
UncoverDC: At what point do the national news outlets begin to contact you?
Calus: So, the meeting was Tuesday. I would say by Wednesday evening, Thursday morning, we started getting phone calls.
UncoverDC: And nothing locally other than Spectrum?
Calus: Nothing. Nothing. And we still haven't heard from anybody locally.
UncoverDC: Who were some of the national outlets that got in touch with you?
Calus: So, we did Sean Hannity on Fox, we did Fox and Friends on Saturday morning. We did two interviews on Newsmax.
Other national shows contacted Calus as well, including Inside Edition. You would think Calus would be worthy of a local story if only for the waves he made.
What's happening in Rochester is a concerted attempt to bury the news. Even if Joy eventually wins her case on behalf of parents arrested at school board meetings everywhere, the win will likely go unremarked in her own hometown.