BENTON HARBOR, Mich. — A group of concerned citizens were prevented from entering the September 14th, Benton Harbor school board meeting by a mob blocking the school’s doors. One of the citizens claims he was put into a choke hold when he first tried to get inside.
Luke Andresen attempted to attend the meeting with several other citizens concerned about the overreach of mask mandates in area schools. He says there was no police presence or uniformed security. However, he was greeted by a man named Maurice Burton, who is a retired Michigan State Trooper.
“He came out and greeted us. He said ‘you can’t come in without masks.'” Andresen said. “I said, ‘That’s not for you to decide. I don’t know who you are.’ He said, ‘I’m here for the Black Lives Matter.’ I said, ‘Okay, well what authority are you using?’ He said, ‘My authority.’ I said, ‘What statute are you citing to stop people from coming in, because there’s no law, this is completely illegal.’ They didn’t care.”
Andresen tells REAL News Michiana that Burton closed the doors, but when someone walked out, he attempted to go inside.
“I just went to walk in, and as soon as I had one foot in the doorway, Maurice had put his arm around my neck, like a choke hold, tried to get me back and then he shoved me as hard as he could.” Andresen said. “We weren’t recording at that time. ABC57 was recording… I called over there and they told me they deleted the video.”
Andresen says at that point, he told Burton that he had just committed assault.
“He said, ‘Oh, I didn’t touch you.’ At that point there are 6 or 7 (people)… who started screaming ‘He didn’t touch you!'” Andresen said.
Cell phone video, recorded after the assault shows the mob and Burton still refusing access to the meeting. One person can be heard yelling that Andresen is committing assault by breathing. You can also hear Burton telling the mob to close the doors as Andresen attempts to enter again. You can watch that video below.
Andresen did call the police. He said he told the officers he did not want to press charges.
“I don’t want to inflame a situation at all. I’m not there for that.” Andresen said. “But I also want to think about how far I am willing to take this. They (the mob) were tugging on me, pushing me, there was a woman screaming in my face. She was so close that her teeth were literally nearly touching my nose.”
“I was called a Nazi. I was called a White Supremacist, I was called the N word multiple times, multiple racial slurs. And then they called me racist.” Andresen continued, explaining he’s not even a Republican or Conservative. “I’m a liberal… I’ve always considered myself a liberal person.”
THE FREEDOM IN SCHOOLS MOVEMENT
Andresen and a large group of citizens has been making his rounds to schools across the area for the past couple of months. His involvement started after he spoke at a St. Joseph Public Schools Board Meeting. He says his message resonated with several people and the movement started to grow.
“I had a number of meetings and hundreds of people started showing up, coming from all over the place, and I started to realize there’s all these groups already in place, so rather than create my own group I’m just trying to unite all these small pockets of people who all think the same.” He explained. “Our group, it’s just a bunch of pissed off Americans.”
“We’re not trying to take anybody’s rights to do what they please away, we are just enforcing our own rights. We’re pushing back on that. We’re not asking. It’s just telling people that we have these rights and you can’t do this to us. It’s illegal.”
He says he was warned not to attend Benton Harbor schools because of the racial optics.
“We have some Benton Harbor parents and they’re voicing their concerns and they’re like, ‘it’s just insane.’ They don’t have any voice. They don’t have any ability to speak out. And it’s really vitriolic in Benton Harbor.” He said. “We figured there’s no way that we’re not going to go to the quote unquote, black school. Because that’s the feedback we had gotten. To me, that’s just BS. We’re all Americans and of course there are children there who don’t want to wear these things and they’re not being advocated for. If nobody else is going to do it, we’re going to go.”
Andresen says a reporter for the local newspaper, the Herald Palladium, never attempted to get his side of the story. Instead, she ran with her own narrative of events. He has attempted to get the paper to run a retraction or another story describing the movement Andresen is part of. He tells RNM, those requests have gone nowhere. You can see the snip of the Harald Palladium article below.
RNM reached out to Benton Harbor Area Schools for comment. As of publication, we have not received a response.
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