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Glendale Extremists Are Part of a National Network Committed to Dismantling Democracy.

Ray Shelton and Jordan Henry, two Glendale extremists, have no children involved in Glendale Unified Public Schools. Beginning in 2021, Henry and fellow extremists began to appear at GUSD Board of Education meetings to repeat national far-right activist Christopher Rufo's scripted attacks in July 2021. Henry exploited GUSD's remote public comment option during the pandemic to build his following. 


As @irrationalhenry, and later @Henry4Glendale, Jordan Henry promoted himself with public comment videos in which he attacked GUSD by repeating disinformation about curriculum. Online, he began directing Glendale-area parents and regional extremists to amplify messages to pull their kids from public schools, participate in the surveillance of teachers, and demand the removal of state and federally mandated protections in place for LGBTQ youth. It is a pattern that has developed across the United States.


Glendale deserves better than extremism. 

How does extremism work?

Extremist talking points and tactics follow a familiar pattern.


First, an influential far-right public figure makes a vague allegation (e.g. schools are teaching "radical gender ideology," teachers are "groomers").


This person's social media followers quickly latch onto the claim and spread it. These extremist online networks (Signal, Telegram, Snapchat, Instagram, TikTok) coordinate meetups at school board meetings, rallies, and city council meetings to make public comment, where false claims can be clipped and spread further on social media.


Soon after, the "controversy" is amplified through legacy media, who cover the "controversy" in a "both sides" framing that legitimizes the original extremist claim within moderate, often older communities that still consume legacy media. These news consumers may not have any connection to public schools and thus believe that the claim must be true because it is in the New York Times or on CNN.

Public institutions, often understaffed and unable to monitor in real-time, are caught off-guard by the intensity and violence of the threats. They believe that if they ignore the extremists, they will go away.

However, most voters don't vote at all, let alone in local elections. Elections are ripe targets for extremist takeovers. Extremists on City Councils and School Boards quickly lead to ongoing chaos, staff resignations, and legal fights that drain city and school budgets of operating funds, decrease public and school safety, and erode public trust in government.

From Chris Rufo to Jordan Henry: A Case Study

In early 2021, right wing groups escalated a nationwide assault on public schools. Led by Christopher Rufo and a number of hastily created dark money-funded organizations, they quickly manufactured a modern day red scare and moral panic about broadly popular and widely adopted curriculum related to race, American history, LGBTQ issues, and sexual education programs. Critical Race Theory was Rufo's first test case but he quickly moved on to "gender ideology" and "parental rights." By June 2023, these false allegations led to violent anti-GUSD protests led by Jordan Henry.

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