JJ Frank, alongside his wife Patrice Frank, speaks out against racist death threats at Comeford Park in Marysville on April 3, 2021. (Zachariah Bryan / The Herald)

JJ Frank, alongside his wife Patrice Frank, speaks out against racist death threats at Comeford Park in Marysville on April 3, 2021. (Zachariah Bryan / The Herald)

‘Enough is enough,’ Marysville father says of racist threats

JJ Frank demanded death threats in the Marysville School District be taken more seriously.

MARYSVILLE — Before a crowd of more than 200 people Saturday afternoon, JJ Frank reiterated his call for Marysville School District leaders to resign in light of racist death threats targeting students.

Frank, the executive director of the Marysville YMCA, said he was speaking as a father.

He spoke for more than 20 minutes, about the pain he felt upon hearing his children were the target of death threats at school, and of his frustrations in dealing with the district.

In December, two boys reportedly talked openly about killing Black peers during a small online group. No felony charges were filed in that case, and the boys were referred to a diversion program after the prosecutor’s office consulted with the parents of a targeted classmate.

“They said they wanted to kill,” Frank said, trailing off as he choked up with tears, “my daughter.”

The press conference came a day after hate crime charges were referred to the prosecutor’s office in a separate case, from January. According to Marysville police, a 20-year-old Lake Stevens man posted a picture of a hand holding a gun on a “juvenile’s social media account,” with the words “Killing minorities soon.” The case had been referred to the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office to investigate, as the suspect is a close relative of a city police officer.

Among those gathered at Saturday’s event were students, parents and activists. On the stage alongside Frank were his wife Patrice Frank, his pastor, NAACP Snohomish County Vice President Louis Harris, Jacque Julien of the Communities of Color Coalition and Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring, along with his son, Snohomish County Councilman Nate Nehring.

JJ Frank spoke to the idea some have reportedly suggested that the students were only joking.

“Just a joke?” he said. “When a student threatens another student’s life and says that they want to kill them, that is not a joke. And when a student threatens another student’s life, that threatens all of our childrens’ lives.”

He said the school district needed to take death threats more seriously. And he claimed leaders misled him and his wife when they said the offending students were removed from school. According to JJ and Patrice Frank, they learned the students had returned to classes in the district, though apparently on a different campus, without informing parents.

In a Thursday statement to students, parents, staff and the community, acting superintendent Lori Knudson said the law prevents the district from sharing specific details about the discipline of a student. She explained that the district takes a number of steps to respond to threats. That includes notifying the police, conducting a threat assessment, creating a safety plan, assigning discipline according to law, providing services and resources for safety to victims, and providing services and resources for perpetrators.

The incidents confirm “the Marysville School District’s recognition and acknowledgment that racism and hate continue to exist in our community,” the letter said. “They have further required us to recognize and take responsibility for our own learning related to racism and hate, and commit to strengthening our practices, communication, and training.”

According to the district, the “disciplined students” are now in a separate program “outside of school,” where they have no contact with other students during in-person or online class time. It was not clear when that decision was made. Again, the district has said it is not allowed to discuss specifics about student discipline.

At Saturday’s press conference, Harris, the local NAACP chapter’s vice president, called on local school districts to form a plan to protect students of color “now and into the future,” and to create a third party complaint reporting and investigation system in response to hate crimes. He said schools should institute a zero-tolerance policy for hate crimes, as well as any retaliation against reports of hate crimes. And he demanded that the prosecutor’s office pursue the issue as a hate crime, and to prosecute the perpetrators to the fullest extent that the law allows.

Patrice Frank also spoke. She talked of the exhaustion her family experienced dealing with the school district in the past four months.

“We were all screaming, in order to help them to see … we cannot tolerate death threats,” she said, “and their treatment of it has been shameful.”

JJ Frank said since students have reported the alleged hate crimes, they have further become the target of harassment and bullying.

He repeatedly called for the resignations of Knudson, Superintendent Jason Thompson and Director of Secondary Schools Rod Merrell.

If they don’t resign voluntarily, JJ Frank said he would begin pressuring the school board to fire them.

“Enough is enough,” JJ Frank shouted throughout his speech.

The crowd chanted the phrase back.

Zachariah Bryan: 425-339-3431; zbryan@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @zachariahtb.

Talk to us

More in Local News

A car breaks and waits for traffic to pass before turning onto 123rd Avenue on Monday, Nov. 22, 2021 in Lake Stevens, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Can roundabouts, lower speed limit make 84th Street NE safer?

Maybe, but transportation and disability advocates want design features to make crossing safe.

Two brother bear cubs, burned in a fire last summer, were recently reunited at PAWS in Lynnwood. (PAWS) 20211129
Bear cubs, burned in wildfires, reunited in viral video in Lynnwood

The brother cubs are being treated at PAWS Wildlife Center. They were injured in a wildfire near Lake Chelan.

Everett officials have questions about a 125-room hotel shelter

City Council members say they weren’t aware of the county’s proposal until it made headlines.

A fatal crash prompted closure of West Mukilteo Boulevard between Forest Park and Dogwood Drive Friday afternoon. (Everett Police Department) 20211126
2 identified in deadly T-bone crash in Everett

Otila Retel Azanedo de Jones, 67, and William Jones, 85, died at the scene.

Reagan Dunn to take on U.S. Rep. Kim Schrier in 8th District

The Republican is challenging incumbent Democrat Kim Schrier in a district which could include a slice of Snohomish County.

A man died after he was found with gunshot wounds Saturday in downtown Everett. (Caleb Hutton / The Herald)
Man dead after shooting in downtown Everett

The man, believed to be in his 40s, was found near California Street and Rockefeller Avenue.

Rear Adm. Christopher Sweeney, commander of Puget Sound-based Carrier Strike Group 11, in Bremerton on Nov. 23, 2021. (U.S. Navy/MC3 Justin McTaggart)
From Everett, this rear admiral commands a Navy strike group

Christopher Sweeney leads Carrier Strike Group 11, a force of aircraft and ships stretching from here to San Diego.

Keith Wagoner
Senator becomes first GOP candidate for secretary of state

Sen. Keith Wagoner will challenge Democrat Steve Hobbs, who was appointed to the statewide post in November

Charges: Everett ID thief tried to buy wheels, speakers, more

The man, 33, was charged this week with 10 counts of identity theft in Snohomish County Superior Court.

Most Read