GLENDALE, Calif. - The Glendale Unified School District's final board meeting of the year drew large groups of protesters and advocates of the LGBTQ+ community, and police arrested one person who was in custody Wednesday.
Even though there were no LGBTQ+ items on the school board agenda, protesters and supporters showed up at the meeting Tuesday night.
Images from SkyFOX showed hundreds of people gathering outside. Throughout the day, protesters started showing up in the school district's parking lot.
Police were on standby with riot helmets and gear in case the situation escalated like last time.
President Nayiri Nahabedian started the meeting by attempting to calm the protesters, asking them not to repeat the attacks and threats from the meeting on June 6.
"Angry rhetoric has been ratcheted up and some things have been said and done that are simply not OK and they really must stop," she said. "Accusatory language, personal attacks, mining people's social media to publicize deeply personal situations, vandalizing cars, racial and ethnic slurs, homophobic, transphobic slurs and intentional misrepresentation of what's happening in our schools. These things will create long-lasting divisions in our Glendale community that may never be repaired. Deep divisions that we should wonder how to come back from."
She added that, "no one has a right to threaten, bully, harass another person."
During the meeting, Superintendent Vivian Ekchian announced she is retiring effective June 30, ending a 38-year career in education.
A group of LGBTQ+ advocates called Queer Nation LA urged supporters to turn out in force at the GUSD board meeting "to outnumber the fascists trying to eradicate trans and queer lives from public education in the U.S. and beyond."
The group's posts suggested that an "allied group of GUSD parents" will attend the meeting to speak in support of LGBTQ+ kids, and "we additionally want to support and protect them through our presence there."
The Glendale Police Department issued a statement before the meeting saying the agency is "fully prepared and equipped to safeguard and protect our community, including against any agitators desiring to utilize this planned protest as an opportunity to cause violence and disturbances."
"We would also like to remind those participating in the protest or demonstration that unlawful conduct in the city of Glendale, including violence, will not be tolerated," police said. "Any groups or individuals wishing to engage in violence or criminal activity will be swiftly identified and arrested by the Glendale Police Department."
On June 6, the board was considering a motion -- which it has approved uneventfully in recent years -- recognizing June as Pride Month. The vote, coming on the heels of a much-debated Pride Month assembly at a North Hollywood high school that prompted vocal protests, led to hundreds of people gathering outside district headquarters. Clashes quickly erupted, leading to isolated fistfights that prompted a brief shelter-in-place order inside the board meeting.
Police said three people were arrested during the melee.
Officers ultimately set up skirmish lines looking to keep the various protest groups apart and restore order. The board eventually approved the Pride motion.
Glendale police Chief Manuel Cid issued a statement after the June 6 meeting blaming "agitators on both sides of the issue" for inciting the violence that erupted.
"While passionate and boisterous, the protest was largely peaceful, allowing community members to voice their perspectives on issues surrounding the school district," Cid said. "Unfortunately, a handful of agitators, on both sides of the issue, arrived at the demonstration with a clear desire to confront and incite violence, ultimately engaging in physical assaults. Glendale police officers responded to these fights swiftly and professionally, quickly making arrests and restoring order to the situation.
"Moving forward, the Glendale Police Department will use all the investigative tools available to us to identify any persons responsible for acts of violence at yesterday's protest and bring them to justice. The Glendale Police Department and the Glendale community will continue to honor and protect people's right to free speech and assembly. However, individuals who wish to incite disorder and violence in our community will not be tolerated and will be dealt with swiftly by our police department."