Michigan woman confronted with swastika after battling conservatives over local schools
Julie Ohashi

A southeast Michigan woman who has battled her newly conservative school board found a swastika painted on a tree visible from her property.

Julie Ohashi spotted the graffiti and charred bark last month while walking on a wooded trail behind her Livingston County house, a short distance from her child's swing set, a day after her name and address were shared on a local Facebook page that opposes a school tax renewal for which she had campaigned, reported MLive.

“Our family sees that swastika and attempted tree burning as a pathetic and cowardly attempt to intimidate us into silence,” Ohashi said.

Ohashi and some other parents had founded Livingston Integrity PAC to promote the renewal of a tax to fund Hartland Schools that had been opposed by area Republican leaders, and she had become more active in local politics after the school board in the deep-red county after a slate of conservative candidates won three school board seats under the slogan “education not indoctrination.”

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Voters ultimately voted overwhelmingly -- with 76.6 percent in favor -- on May 2 to renew the 18-mill non-homestead tax, despite Republican claims that the money would be used to promote lessons on gender, race and sexuality, but school officials said the funding was necessary to unlock state funding and preserve education programs.

Ohashi reported the vandalism to the county sheriff, whose office forwarded the information to the FBI, and she shared her experience at the May 8 school board meeting.

“Hate groups use these symbols and symbolic burnings as a way to create fear,” Ohashi said. “In fact, it motivates us to go harder because it clarifies what’s at stake for our community, and most importantly, for our kids and their future."