By David M. Greenwald
Davis, CA – On Tuesday, for the sixth time, the entire Davis community has been disrupted by bomb threats. Tuesday marked the third time in the last week that the Vanguard itself received the threat. And while we continue to believe that these are merely threats, they have to be taken seriously lest the perpetrators escalate and turn anxiety into tragedy.
The toll this is taking on the community is being felt by many—this writer included—personally.
The message has been couched in terms of concern for the well-being of the youth: “Our youth are our future, what you teach isn’t just garbage but its (sic) poison and we’re not going to stand idly by as you brainwash the next generation with your sick perverted fantasy and create further division in our country.”
But the bomb threats are disrupting their education. They are causing anxiety and stress and trauma. In short, if your concern is really the well-being of children—by threatening their schools, their teachers and themselves, you are doing the exact opposite.
Not only is this stressing district resources, it is also putting the broader community in danger by stressing police resources.
Chief Pytel told me on Monday, “This morning we had to delay dealing with a missing person at risk because of the school searches. This is impacting our ability to respond to other urgent calls.”
There is also a very real danger that this becomes the boy that cries wolf, that eventually the community will become complacent with numerous bomb threats and then one day either these same individuals or another disturbed individual will do the real thing, and it will have catastrophic consequences.
This is in short a very serious matter on many levels with a number of risks that might be unintended and unforeseen.
What can we do about it?
I reached out to Beth Bourne to suggest that she issue a statement calling on the threats to cease. It may not work. I really do not believe that she is DIRECTLY involved, but I do think that her continued social media tirades are inflaming things at this point.
Unfortunately, she was inclined to blame to the issue on “false flags” and deflected responsibility. She suggested that the district hold a public discussion on her issue of choice.
Unfortunately, that looks a lot like bargaining—using the bomb threats as a chip to gain what she wants.
In the meantime, while this may be giving her attention and causing chaos, if anything it is likely to get further from her desired results. Local authorities are angry and frustrated. Local residents who might have listened previously to a rational discussion are unlikely to want to give consideration to her concerns.
Last night, the school board held an emergency meeting in closed session with Chief Darren Pytel to discuss matters further. Bourne and one of her associates spoke at the meeting during public comment, but she still does not seem to grasp the magnitude of what she is dealing with.
In my view, the chief gave her a very clear warning on Monday with his issued statement.
He warned, “The Davis Police Department is working with the FBI and our regional partners on the continuing criminal investigations. As pointed out by many community members, the continuing threats originated shortly after a contentious event, hosted by Moms for Liberty, was held at the Yolo County Library.
“The event quickly made national news, espousing a particular ideology that is related to the language in the threatening emails.”
He explained, “Although there is currently no evidence pointing to any involvement between local members and the threats, the correlation between the two cannot be ignored as part of the overall criminal investigations. While the First Amendment protects certain types of speech, there is certainly speech involving criminal threats and bomb threats that are criminal in nature.”
And then the kicker: “Because of this, criminal cases have been forwarded to the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office to review for criminal charging regarding some of the local social media postings affecting the community that may constitute criminal doxing (threats or harassing communication via communications including social media).”
As such, “We will continue to work with the District Attorney to determine whether there is criminal culpability and take appropriate action if there is.”
While I don’t always agree with Chief Pytel, he has been in his position for a long time and has been in the leadership of the Davis Police Department for even longer. I have learned not to underestimate him and she has clearly gotten under his skin.
There is still a chance to tone things down and hopefully end these daily disruptions to our community, but at some point, the authorities will take more concerted and more formal action.
That may well further inflame things, but the current events cannot continue to occur.
It is a shame we have gotten to this point, but at this point passion and anger have overwhelmed our ability to have reasoned dialogue. The community is not going to have the kind of discussion she wants at gun point. It is time to do the right thing and figure out how to back off. The time to do that is now getting short.