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O.C. School Board Member Leandra Blades Receives Backlash for Attending the Trump Rally in Washington, D.C.

An online petition is circulating calling for Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified school board member Leandra Blades to resign after coming under fire for her attendance at the Trump rally last week in Washington, D.C. that led to the siege of the Capitol building. 

As of Jan. 17, the petition has over 8,400 signatures.

Blades attended the Trump rally in Washington D.C. with a group of her friends; however, she claims that she was not involved in the violence that ensued after. 

Photo by @AJPlus/Twitter

“At no time did I incite, condone or encourage any violence or rioting. At no time did I go inside the Capitol. There have been many people on social media making these false allegations. These are people who have attacked me in the past for my political views and others who I have never met,” Blades said in a statement on Facebook.

Many supporters of the resignation petition were left unsatisfied by her response. 

“No person that actively participates in overthrowing our democratic process should have any participation in choices that affect these children’s educational environment,” one commenter wrote on the petition

Other supporters are angry at Blades for traveling out-of-state during a pandemic and lockdown. 

“Didn’t she show us how much she cares for our kids and community when she travelled during a pandemic and lockdown and attended a super spreader event unmasked, only to return to our community and potentially infect anyone she comes into contact with in our stores, at the board, the district,” another commenter said. 

Although the petition supporting Blades’ resignation has gained thousands of signatures, a second petition is circulating in support of Blades’s political expression. This petition has garnered over 4,000 signatures. 

“The rally was intended to be a peaceful assembly of people from across the country who only wanted to voice their opinion on the legitimacy of the election. However right or wrong their opinion might be, every American is entitled to freedom of speech and peaceful expression,” the online petition states. 

“Leandra Blades has done nothing wrong. She openly condemned the act of violence on the Capitol, did not partake in the rioting and cannot be held responsible for the actions of others,” one commenter wrote. 

Blades said that she does not plan on resigning any time soon. 

“I’ve been slandered and called a terrorist and an insurrectionist for attending a rally to hear the President speak. At no time did I break any laws. I truly believe had I been at any other event besides President Trump’s rally, this would not be an issue. I’m being persecuted and vilified for my political beliefs. I will not resign and give in to the cancel culture and the bully mentality,” Blades stated in an interview with OC Register.

The Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District (PYLUSD) has released a statement in response to the backlash, defending board members’ ability to freely express personal viewpoints on civic issues. PYLUSD also stated that personal discourse by board members is not indicative of the viewpoint of the Board itself and the PYLUSD. 

“Board Members may make public statements and participate in public discourse on matters of civic or community interest and utilize their right to freely express their personal views. Board members also have a responsibility to identify personal viewpoints as such and not as the viewpoint of the Board and the Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District,” PYLUSD  released in a statement on their website. 

During the election certification process on Jan. 6, Capitol Hill was put in lockdown after attendees of the Trump rally stormed the building. 

Photo by @AJPlus/Twitter

Around 2:11 p.m., Trump supporters broke into the Capitol building, shattering windows and destroying property in the process. Approximately three hours later, the building was secured and Congress resumed certifying the votes, which was completed early Thursday morning.

As of Jan. 17, five individuals have been confirmed dead from the siege, including one Capitol police officer.

Amy Duong is a City News Staff Writer. She can be reached at amynd@uci.edu.