Rhode Island Social Science Teacher Arrested For Vandalizing Columbus Statue


For many of us, the spasm of vandalism of public art and history has been painful to watch as mobs destroy a vast array of statues around the world, including such bizarre anti-racism vandalism like defacing Abraham Lincoln’s statue in London.  The arrest of Derrick Garforth in Rhode Island is particularly disturbing after he allegedly vandalized a statue of Columbus. Garforth is a social science teacher in Middle School who teaches history but sought to destroy a historical monument. It is a powerful lesson for his students but not one that you would expect from a history or social science teacher.

I have long opposed the sweeping efforts to dismantle or destroy historical monuments and statues. (Here and here and here and here and here and here and here) While I recognize that there are some statues that should be removed, my primary objection is to the lack of a public debate over how we should address these calls. Instead, mobs have been destroying or defacing statues.

Arrested with Garforth, 34, were Charlotte Whittingham, 28, and Mackenzie Innis, 26.


What has been chilling is the role of teachers like Erin Thompson, a professor of “art crime” at the City University of New York’s John Jay College.  Thompson actively  advised how to best destroy art in a tweet thread.

According to news reports, Garforth was charged with felony desecration of a grave or monument over the vandalizing of a statue of Christopher Columbus in Providence, Rhode Island.  Police say that Garforth and two others ran after police spotted them splattering the statue with paint.

The question is how the middle school will respond. We have often discussed how schools have react in vastly different ways if they agree with a teacher’s criminal actions.  For example, universities continue to honor Feminist Studies Associate Professor Mireille Miller-Young with pro-life advocates on campus. Miller-Young led her students in attacking the pro-life display, stealing their display, and then committing battery on one of the young women. Thrin Short, 16, and her sister Joan, 21, filed complaints and Miller-Young was charged with criminal conduct including Theft From Person; Battery; and Vandalism. Miller-Young was convicted and sentenced for assault.  She was not fired for her assault and instead she was supported by faculty and students including some who insisted that she was “triggered” by the pro-life activists. Some called pro-life activists as effectively terrorists.

Rhode Island General Law requires that anyone hired directly by the private school or public school department, contractual employees of the private school or public school department, and those individuals, who may have direct or unmonitored contact with children or students, must undergo a state criminal background check. Under the statute, the state criminal background check is valid for one year. However, state law confines “Disqualifying information” to those “offenses listed in §§ 23-17-37, 11-37-8.1, 11-37-8.3, 11-9-1(b), 11-9-1(c), 11-9-1.3.”

It is not clear that destruction of public property is a de facto disqualifying crime. The second provision, 11-37-8.1, involves sexual assault and the third provision, 11-37-8.3, is attempted sexual assault.   Section 11-9-1(b) and 11-9-1-13 concern child pornography.

The first provision, 23-17-37, actually deals with health care facilities but give a list of offense:

§ 23-17-37. Disqualifying information.

(a) Information produced by a national criminal records check pertaining to conviction for the following crimes will result in a letter to the employee and employer disqualifying the applicant from employment: murder, voluntary manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter, first-degree sexual assault, second-degree sexual assault, third-degree sexual assault, assault on persons sixty (60) years of age or older, assault with intent to commit specified felonies (murder, robbery, rape, burglary, or the abominable and detestable crime against nature) felony assault, patient abuse, neglect or mistreatment of patients, burglary, first-degree arson, robbery, felony drug offenses, felony larceny, or felony banking law violations, felony obtaining money under false pretenses, felony embezzlement, abuse, neglect and/or exploitation of adults with severe impairments, exploitation of elders, or a crime under section 1128(a) of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. § 1320a-7(a)). An employee against whom disqualifying information has been found may provide a copy of the national criminal records check to the employer who shall make a judgment regarding the continued employment of the employee. An employee against whom disqualifying information has been found may provide a copy of the national criminal records check to the employer who shall make a judgment regarding the continued employment of the employee.

So what does Jenks Middle School do now that Garforth has been placed on leave pending an investigation?  This is not just a criminal act but a lesson to children that they should destroy symbols and art that they oppose.  I expect many will come to support his case but it is the very definition of mob action.  It is the rejection of intellectual discourse and debate that defines education.  He is a social science teacher who wants to destroy monuments and art so that others cannot enjoy them, or reach their own conclusions on its merits of their worth. Unlike our prior discussion of social media and blog controversies, this is a case involving conduct not speech.

75 thoughts on “Rhode Island Social Science Teacher Arrested For Vandalizing Columbus Statue”

  1. Is there any comprehending this behavior? Well, lets see what BLM people themselves say, shall we?
    The clearly stated goal of Black Lives Matter is to build a grassroots, antiracist movement to defeat capitalism altogether and it’s not going to happen at the ballot box.
    There can be no human system under capitalism. Capitalism is an anti-human system. Quote from Professor Russell Rickford Cornell University. (just another Communist teaching kids at the university level – JMO)

    Black Lives Matter’s core message is built upon, depends upon, and has as its ultimate goal, the larger retelling of the American story as one of oppression and racism.

    Supporters of BLM, for the most part, have moved on from desiring to silence dissent through amending free-speech laws; instead, Black Lives Matter (1) pressures authorities to do it for them.
    As one BLM operative put it, “until now, they had never felt such a sense of hope and excitement that their goal – as one operative put it, “total social upheaval,” and
    “systemic change” – could be realized in their lifetime.”

    So, this is a fight? Si, No? If so, what’s at stake here?
    Crying out for mommie won’t get it!

  2. I came across some Christmas postage stamps with Santa Claus on them and decided to save them for next Christmas.

    I figure that by then Stacey Abrams will have discovered relativity, Oprah will have discovered penicillin, and Santa Clause will be black.

      1. David– Very good point. Blackface, of course, so Santa Claus must be abolished unless he becomes a Democrat and all is forgiven. My stamps will be even more valuable.

  3. “It is the rejection of intellectual discourse and debate that defines education.”

    Right on. This is exactly why the Left’s differentiation between their “educated” base, and the “uneducated” workers of America makes so many people sneer. In the language of the Left, “educated,” means indoctrinated.

  4. America is at war with Communist China, which was initiated through the deliberate release of COVID-19 from an impregnable, fail-safe, secure virology lab. These American citizens adhered to the enemy and gave the enemy aid and comfort. These citizens committed treason and are due a traitor’s penalty.

    Article 3, Section 3

    Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort. No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court.

    The Congress shall have power to declare the punishment of treason, but no attainder of treason shall work corruption of blood, or forfeiture except during the life of the person attainted.

  5. March 20, 2020

    “Two months ago, January 20, 2020 – a date which will live in infamy – the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by the Communist People’s Republic of China.

    “The United States was at peace with that nation and, wittingly or unwittingly, through criminal dereliction and negligence and attempting to obtain the cloak of plausible deniability, the People’s Republic of China released on the world the COVID-19 biological weapon.

    “China has, therefore, undertaken a surprise offensive extending throughout the World. The Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy has directed his entire Cabinet that all measures be taken for the defense of the United States.

    “With confidence in the United States Center For Disease Control and with the unbounding determination of the American people the Untied States will gain the inevitable triumph so help us God.

    “Congress must declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by China on January 20, 2020, a state of war has existed between the United States and China.”

    – President Donald J. Trump

  6. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the field of education. Sixties New Left ideas first made headway in universities, capturing the Education Schools that train many of the nation’s teachers. Civics lessons were steered away from inculcating pride in the nation’s history, liberal ideals, and the Constitution. Instead, they consistently emphasized the victim-oppressor narrative. The New York Times’ 1619 Project, which rides roughshod over historical accuracy in order to concoct a grievance-based American history and has been adopted in some school districts, shows how New Left critical race theory is shaping the next generation.

  7. Why not expect from a social science teacher. First it isn’t a science it’s just a collection politial though and second is there anything in sociology that isn’t anti American?

  8. The first investigation should be of the university systems that sanction these teaching certificates. Just what is the criteria and is mental health at least a minimum requirement?

    1. Alma Carman – the Department of Education sets the standards necessary for a teaching certificate. You can check with each particular state as to what it is. Mental health is never in question. 😉

      1. Paul– For a teaching certificate “Mental health is never in question.”

        No, it wouldn’t be. Why risk losing half the teachers right off the bat?

  9. Does the Rhode Island Social Science Teacher Arrested For Vandalizing Columbus Statue post on this blog using the name anonymous.

  10. Turley’s MO of pointing out only what he wants out there for his Trump cult base is very clear. Turley must know by now that his articles like this only fan the flames of open racist content that his Trump cult base will use all day to object, insult and spew their right-wing fascist ideology. And of course, they will say Turley is running a “Law Blog”

    1. Turley must know by now that his articles like this only fan the flames of open racist content that his Trump cult base will use all day to object, insult and spew their right-wing fascist ideology.

      Of course you once again completely whiff at recognizing the classic projection in your rant.

    2. So sorry to see that you have succumbed to TDS. Bless your heart.

    3. What was openly racist about his comment? The Teacher is a white male, He teaches social science in middle school and he was arrested. Point out only what he wants? He pointed out the facts.

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