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Anti-masker involved in school board meeting fight charged with assault

It happened last month at an Eastern Carver County Schools hearing.
The suspect, the unmasked man on the right of the picture, was charged Thursday with both assault and disorderly conduct. 

The suspect, the unmasked man on the right of the picture, was charged Thursday with both assault and disorderly conduct. 

Charges have been filed against one of the men who was caught on camera fighting at a Minnesota school board hearing last month.

It happened Monday, September 27, at an Eastern Carver County Schools meeting, where parents packed the room to discuss the district's controversial new mask policy — which required all students, regardless of vaccination status, to wear masks for several weeks. 

The district, which is based in Chaska, also serves Chanhassen, Victoria and Carver. 

In video from the meeting in question, an unmasked man, 47-year-old Thomas Kahlbaugh, can be seen accosting Jonas Sjoberg, a masked man who had just finished addressing the board (and voicing support for the mask mandate). Kahlbaugh can be heard accusing the speaker of lying to the board.

Though this confrontation quickly died down, it erupted again eight minutes later, requiring multiple bystanders to step in and separate the two men. The issue this time was apparently a picture Sjoberg had taken of Kahlbaugh following their first run-in. 

Here's the meeting video (the confrontation begins around the 40-minute, 50-second mark and the fight happens around the 48-minute, 50-second mark):

Kahlbaugh was charged Thursday with fifth-degree misdemeanor assault and disorderly conduct in Carver County District Court.

The criminal complaint says Sjoberg, the masked man in the confrontation, took a picture of Kahlbaugh with his cell phone in order to "notify the school board" that Kahlbaugh had "intimidated and stopped people from speaking at the meeting."

Kahlbaugh's wife then confronted Sjoberg over the photo, at which point Kahlbaugh intervened and grabbed the phone out of Sjoberg's hand, the complaint says. When Sjoberg tried to take back his phone, the confrontation escalated. 

In the brief scuffle that followed, Kahlbaugh threw Sjoberg’s phone to the floor, the complaint says. 

Both charges against Kahlbaugh carry up to 90 days in jail as well as up to $1,000 in fines. 

The fight at the Eastern Carver County school board meeting was hardly an isolated incident. Similar incidents have happened at school boards across the country, with parents and educators clashing over COVID-19 mask mandates. 

Late last month, the National School Boards Association (NSBA) requested assistance from the federal government in handling such incidents, including FBI protection for school board members, teachers and students. 

In its request to the Biden Administration, the NSBA said that "acts of malice, violence, and threats against public school officials have increased," and called the problem "equivalent to a form of domestic terrorism and hate crimes."

You can read the full letter by clicking right here. 

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