A left-wing activist in Chattanooga who allegedly vandalized property and allegedly used social media to attack the family of the judge overseeing her case served as guest speaker to middle school students and discussed political activism.
That activist, Marie Mott, is currently running for the Chattanooga City Council, according to her campaign’s Facebook page.
Mott spoke October 6 to sixth, seventh, and eighth-grade students at Brown Middle School in Harrison via Zoom, according to her Facebook page.
Officials with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said Wednesday that they are currently investigating Mott for threatening General Sessions Judge Gary Starnes, who presided over her criminal case.
News of this did not please Hamilton County School Board member Rhonda Thurman. Thurman said this week that Mott is “not someone we need speaking in school.”
Mott, however, told The Tennessee Star this week that she has a history of working with children and helped build a reading center through her local church. Mott also dismissed Thurman’s complaints, especially those concerning Mott’s legal issues.
“If you don’t want anybody based on what they do to talk to children then you don’t want anyone to talk to children. How many of us have lied and not been caught? How many of us have taken something that didn’t belong to us and not been caught?” Mott asked.
“My pending legal case based on my activism here has nothing to do with whether I have anything positive to offer children. Anybody, as long as they have something positive to say to children, should talk to them.”
Thurman, however, said Brown Middle School officials should have vetted Mott before allowing her to speak.
“It looks like at least two policies of ours were broken. One, doing political activity at school. Two, we have to have a background check before you can come into the school and do anything like that, and it looks like neither one of those were followed,” Thurman said.
“She still has to live by our policy. She was not vetted. There was political activity on school property. That doesn’t negate either one of those. I don’t care what she’s done. She still has to live by the same rules as everyone else, and so does the principal [of the school] and everybody else.”
Members of the Chattanooga Tea Party, on their Facebook page, said school officials should have balanced the presentation politically.
“The question is…will these students get an opportunity to hear another viewpoint about citizen participation/activism?” members of the Chattanooga Tea Party asked.
“Or is this just a chance for teachers and leftist leaders to radicalize our young people? What about it, Brown Middle School leaders?”
Officials with the Hamilton County School District did not return two requests for comment this week.
Mott, according to the Chattanooga-based News Channel 9, admitted to removing a Hamilton County flag from the Hamilton County Jail and burning it.
The station reported in September that Judge Gary Starnes recused himself from Mott’s case, in which authorities also accused her of obstructing traffic. Mott accused Starnes of supporting the Blue Lives Matter movement, implying he was biased in favor of law enforcement. Mott shared one of Starnes’ Facebook posts to her own social media. That post included a photo showing Starnes’ grandson with a Blue Lives Matter flag, according to the station.
TBI spokeswoman Susan Niland told The Star Wednesday that her agency continues to investigate Mott.
“In September, at the request of District Attorney General [Neal] Pinkston, TBI Special Agents began investigating an allegation against Marie Mott for retaliation for past actions and threats to a General Sessions judge,” Niland said in an email.
“The case remains active and ongoing at this time.”
Thurman, meanwhile, said “that after something is done it is too late, and parents need to know what is going on with their children in schools.”
“We cannot allow things like this to happen. These are people’s children,” Thurman said.
“They are not our property. They belong to their parents.”
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