NJ Mom Treated Like a Terrorist Threat, 'Demonized' for Questioning Sexual Posters in Elementary School
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A New Jersey mother who says she was treated like a terrorist for questioning offensive signs at a local school last November is now suing nine individuals who she says violated her civil rights.
Attorneys with the Thomas More Society, a nonprofit, public interest law firm, are representing Angela Reading. They filed a lawsuit on March 15, in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey. Reading is a third-year law student, mother of two, and respected member of her county's regional board of education.
The 62-page lawsuit alleges that the police chief of North Hanover Township, acting in combination with military personnel from the Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, coerced the removal of her Facebook post in which she objected to sexually explicit material posted in the hallway of a local elementary school. She spoke up because her children were exposed to the material.
The named defendants then portrayed her as a "security threat" and reported her to various law enforcement and security agencies in an effort to retaliate against her and make her afraid to speak out in the future.
During an interview with CBN News Monday, Reading said not only was there a mob of people trying to cancel her, "but I had a response from the United States military and our local police force that labeled me as a security threat, pretty much coerced my social media post to come down, and then reported me to local, federal and stage agencies as essentially a terrorist."
"My entire life has been uprooted," she said. "When all of this was taking place, I'm in law school and I had to stop going to school, not take my exams, which plummeted my GPA. I had to pull my kids from school during that time period for their safely. And now I don't feel safe for them even going back to that school given how so many members of the community and the superintendent participated in this cancellation and betrayal of me as a security threat."
"So now I need to send my kids to a private school for their safety," Reading told CBN News. "Not only that. I was forced to resign from the school board for the safety of my children and also that I had an ability to file litigation to protect my civil rights. So this has completely uprooted my professional career. I was supposed to be working for a law firm, representing school boards."
"So, there are damages far outreaching that will follow me throughout my entire life," she added. "I don't even feel comfortable and safe going out in my community the way that they portrayed me. I've lost friends that don't talk to me who actually believed the things that were being said."
***Watch Angela Reading's entire interview on The Global Lane at 8:30 pm Eastern Thursday on the CBN News Channel. You can also watch it on the CBN News YouTube Channel or the CBN News app.***
Thomas More Society Special Counsel Christopher Ferrara explained, "Mrs. Reading's November 22, 2022, Facebook post was made as a private citizen from her personal social media account to a discussion group about New Jersey schools."
"In it, she shared how she had attended an elementary school 'math night' the previous evening with her seven-year-old daughter, who after reading LGBT-affirming posters in the school's entry, asked her mother what 'polysexual' meant. Mrs. Reading merely questioned why elementary children were being invited to research topics of sexuality, noting that it is not in the state educational standards nor the board of education approved curriculum," Ferrara explained.
"Mrs. Reading did not name names or schools, and invited respectful debate," he added.
What pushback Reading received was outright censorship of her speech followed by a dedicated smear campaign begun by U.S. Army Reserve Major Christopher Schilling, who emailed parents and school officials condemning her and her actions, according to the Thomas More Society.
Schilling, using his official military email account, then involved Joseph Vasquez, a U.S. Air Force civilian employee, who forwarded Reading's post and Schilling's claims to the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness and the New Jersey State Police in what Vasquez admitted were "hopes of getting an Incident Detection and Response sent to schools and police departments" – meaning there would be a widespread law enforcement "threat" alert regarding Reading based solely on her clearly protected speech.
"This intention to trigger a preposterous widespread law enforcement investigation and state of alarm over Mrs. Reading's protected speech as if it were an 'incident' of potential, or even actual criminality, is a violation of Mrs. Reading's civil rights," Ferrara noted.
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Court documents describe how the situation snowballed, as members of the military, law enforcement, and the Township abused the power of their offices not only to censor Reading's speech but also to create a public fury specifically directed against Reading.
"The defendants acted singularly and in conspiracy with one another to deprive and chill the exercise of Mrs. Reading's rights, including rights protected by the United States and New Jersey constitutions, as well as other laws," the complaint concludes.
Ferrara noted that as a result of the defendants' coordinated smear campaign, conducted in their official capacities, the Readings have been "demonized, harassed, traumatized, and excoriated throughout the community, forced to resign their school board positions, and having been made unwelcome, now feel they must seek costly alternative education for their children. All of this is a direct result of a conspiracy to punish a mother who did not welcome a public school's attempt to force a woke ideology upon her own, and other, young children – and to have the audacity to exercise her right of free speech to do so in a peaceful manner in an appropriate forum."
Thomas More Society attorneys have asked the court for a trial by jury.
Read the Verified Complaint for Civil Rights Violations and Injunctive and Declaratory Relief, in Angela Reading v. North Hanover Township, New Jersey et al., filed by Thomas More Society attorneys on March 15, 2023.
You can see the related exhibits here.
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