School Climate & Safety

Newtown Debates Letter Asking Trump to Denounce Sandy Hook ‘Truthers’

By Evie Blad — February 03, 2017 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The Newtown, Conn., school board wants President Donald Trump to denounce Sandy Hook “truthers"—people who claim the 2012 mass shootings at the town’s elementary school were an elaborate hoax.

The board this week authorized its chair to sign a letter to the president, calling on Trump to speak out against people who perpetuate the conspiracy theory that the shootings, in which 20 children and six adults were killed, were staged to drum up public support for stricter gun laws, the Newtown Bee reports. Other Newtown city boards are also considering whether to sign and send the letter.

The letter, which was drafted by Democratic Town Committee Chair Eric Paradis, singles out Infowars personality and controversial radio host Alex Jones, who has supported Trump and who popularized the hoax theory, the Bee reports. Trump praised Jones during the 2016 campaign. The White House has denied rumors that it offered a spot in its daily media briefings to Infowars.

Sandy Hook truthers have tormented families of the shooting victims. One was arrested in 2016 for a death threat against a victim’s relative.

Erica Lafferty, whose mother died in the shootings, previously called on Trump to denounce Jones in a November letter published in USA Today:

Even after an election that exposed deep divisions in our country, surely we can all agree on this: The mass shooting at Sandy Hook happened. Twenty-six families, including mine, were torn apart and will never be the same. Any preposterous ideas to the contrary cannot be allowed to seep into our country's mainstream discourse. They must be swiftly and publicly refuted. Surely, the newly elected leader of the free world can see that."

Not everyone in Newtown, which has notably shied away from the media spotlight since the shootings, supports the letter. At public meetings of other Newtown town boards, some residents, including the relative of a Sandy Hook shooting victim, said they feared it would be unproductive or stir up backlash and “give oxygen to something that doesn’t deserve it,” the Bee reports. Some town officials have been hesitant to sign onto the letter, the paper reports.

Newtown finance board Vice Chairman James Gaston, spoke in support of signing and sending the letter.

“Families have been threatened and sometimes you have to speak up as someone who had conspiracy theorists supporting him,” Gaston said in a town meeting, according to the Bee. “We’re asking [Trump] to recognize that 26 were killed—denounce all who spread lie —and to not support those who are promoting something hurtful and untrue. We’re not asking to pass a law, we’re asking for support. We received support from President Obama, now we’re asking for support from President Trump.”

Photo: White roses with the faces of victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting are attached to a telephone pole in January 2013, on the one-month anniversary of the shooting that left 26 dead in Newtown, Conn. --Jessica Hill/AP-File


Related reading on the Newtown shootings:

Follow @evieblad on Twitter or subscribe to Rules for Engagement to get blog posts delivered directly to your inbox.

Related Tags:

A version of this news article first appeared in the Rules for Engagement blog.


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Ensuring Continuity of Learning: How to Prepare for the Next Disruption
Across the country, K-12 schools and districts are, again, considering how to ensure effective continuity of learning in the face of emerging COVID variants, politicized debates, and more. Learn from Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent
Content provided by Class
Teaching Profession Live Online Discussion What Have We Learned From Teachers During the Pandemic?
University of California, Santa Cruz, researcher Lora Bartlett and her colleagues spent months studying how the pandemic affected classroom teachers. We will discuss the takeaways from her research not only for teachers, but also for

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School Climate & Safety What the Research Says A Hallmark of School Shooters: Long History of Social Rejection
New research finds that shooters in K-12 schools are more often "failed joiners" than loners.
5 min read
Butler County Sheriff Deputies stand on the scene at Madison Local Schools, in Madison Township in Butler County, Ohio, after a school shooting on Feb. 29, 2016.
Sheriff deputies were on the scene of a shooting at Madison Local Schools, in Butler County, Ohio, in 2016.
Cara Owsley/The Cincinnati Enquirer via AP
School Climate & Safety 4 Myths About Suspensions That Could Hurt Students Long Term
New longitudinal research shows that longer in- and out-of-school suspensions have severe consequences for students.
5 min read
Image of a student sitting at a desk in a school hallway.
Jupiterimages/Getty
School Climate & Safety Photos The Tense and Joyous Start to the 2021 School Year, in Photos
Students are headed back to school with the threat of the Delta variant looming. How is this playing out across the country? Take a look.
School Climate & Safety Former NRA President Promotes Gun Rights at Fake Graduation Set Up by Parkland Parents
A former NRA president invited to give a commencement address to a school that doesn’t exist was set up to make a point about gun violence.
Lisa J. Huriash, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
2 min read
David Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union, speaks during the CPAC meeting in Washington on Thursday, Feb. 10, 2010.
David Keene, the former president of the NRA, promoted gun rights in a speech he thought was a rehearsal for a commencement address to graduating students in Las Vegas. The invitation to give the speech was a set up by Parkland parents whose son was killed in the 2018 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via AP