Springboro, Ohio residents are up in arms after a member of the local tea party unfurled a Confederate flag at a meeting of the town's school board Thursday. According to Huffington Post, Sonny Thomas, who bills himself as the president and founder of the Springboro Tea Party was protesting the removal of a set of religiously-themed and ideologically slanted classes from the district's summer curriculum.
Thomas, who has a history of racist and inflammatory statements, reportedly gave an impassioned defense of the classes, which were intended for parents and children. The summer courses were sponsored by the Institute of the Constitution, an offshoot group from right-wing think tank The American View and the National Center for Constitutional Studies, a religious-themed nationalist group funded by the Church of Latter Day Saints.
In his speech, Thomas made racist remarks, invoked neo-Confederate group The League of the South and displayed the Confederate flag, saying that African-Americans in the U.S. "should consider themselves lucky since they are treated better in the United States than they would be if they were in 'Black Countries' with 'genocide,'" according to Springboro resident Nimisha Patel.
Patel also noted the school board members showed unusual deference to Thomas, allowing his remarks to run over his allotted time slot. They also allowed him to stay for the rest of the meeting, whereas other speakers who the board deemed problematic were escorted from the premises.
School board Vice President Jim Rigano defended the propaganda classes in a statement earlier this year, writing, "We felt that having the community participate with evaluating these courses would be an excellent opportunity for schools and community to work together. Instead, the courses have received some criticism from the community, which we take very seriously.”
The courses came under fire in June, when the Ohio ACLU announced that it was investigating the program in the context of an overall plan by the school board to inject religious instruction into public school curricula.
[image of Sonny Thomas via Springboro Tea Party's Facebook page]