Some Kenosha conservatives, aligned with the anti-LGBT hate group MassResistance led by an extremist from California, are targeting KUSD school staff, school board members, and private citizens over banned books.
They're collaborating with members of Kenosha Moms for Liberty and the Republican Party of Kenosha County in an effort to ban books from KUSD schools.
Extremism harms our community.
ARTHUR SCHAPER AND MASSRESISTANCE - outside anti-LGBT extremist involved in attacks on KUSD
MassResistance has found support in their effort to ban books from Kenosha Republicans involved in Moms for Liberty and the Republican Party of Kenosha County.
Led by Arthur Schaper of Torrance, California, who has been identified as an anti-LGBT White Nationalist by the SPLC, the Kenosha chapter aims to remove books with perceived 'pornographic' content from KUSD school libraries, particularly those featuring LGBT characters. Their tactics have been threats, intimidation, as well as calling for the arrest of teachers and school staff,.
Some prominent local Republican leaders have not only welcomed this effort but actively participated, adopting Schaper's divisive tactics and rhetoric.
Arthur Schaper, (photo: Southern Poverty Law Center)
CHAOS, DISRUPTION, MISINFORMATION, RACISM AND ANTI-LGBT HATE:
the political history of Arthur Schaper of MassResistance, now active in Kenosha
Arthur Schaper, known for his abrasive and extreme tactics, was disavowed by the Republican Party in 2017 due to his disruptive and intimidating behavior at meetings, intimidating elected officials and citizens.
He was part of a group accused of orchestrating racist and anti-semitic protests in Orange County, California. Schaper's arrest in Huntington Beach stemmed from his disruptive conduct.
At the time of his arrest, Arthur Schaper likened it to that of Rosa Parks, a Black figure in the Civil Rights movement who was arrested for refusing to sit in the back of a bus, playing a pivotal role in starting the Montgomery Bus Boycott, which helped advance equal rights for Black Americans.
Schaper and followers publicly supported a Dixon, CA vice mayor's 'Straight Pride American Month' proposal, opposing what Schaper called 'LGBTQF-WTF' month in June.
Schaper attended the meeting carrying a “one man, one woman” marriage sign. Below you will see a picture of the leader of Kenosha's MassResistance, Caleb Michael Anthony Laitinen, mimicking Schaper's tactics here in Kenosha when he and members of Moms for Liberty and the Republican Party of Kenosha County forced the shutdown of a KUSD school board meeting in February, 2023.
Kenosha MassResistance leader Caleb Laitinen mimicking Arthur Schaper's tactics at a KUSD school board meeting in February 2023.
In 2021, Schaper and MassResistance targeted the Ludlow School District in MA, with false claims alleging pornography in the schools and objecting to the district's hiring of a non-binary librarian (who they misidentified as transgender) and protesting the district's use of student's preferred pronouns. They accused school officials of the 'indoctrination' of students. MassResistance falsely claimed school officials promoted a 'radical LGBT agenda on middle school children' in Ludlow schools. Some parents sued the school district, but their claims were dismissed in Federal court.
In Orange County, Schaper has been called one of Southern California’s "most obnoxious conservative, Bible-quoting activists."
Schaper says he engages in an “aggressive” attack on the “vulgar, virulent homosexual lobby” that he feels espouses “Orwellian nonsense.”
At a Dixon, CA meeting, local news reported that a 14-year-old gay girl was taunted by one of Schaper's followers. When she began to cry, the woman said "Fake tears!"
The Chief of Police had to eventually ask Schaper to leave due to his disruptive behavior.
Schaper’s behavior in disrupting government meetings is so extreme, the Los Angelos Times wrote an article about him titled “The Political Theater of right-wing activist Arthur Schaper.”
In Chula Vista, CA Schaper attempted to disrupt a Drag Queen story hour. “Queer role models? That’s not sensible. This is a rigorous agenda undermining people’s individual liberties, it is undermining our culture,” Schaper said.
In Ridgeland MI, Schaper called LGBT materials in the public library “abusive;” writing about LGBT books: “encroaching sexual perversion has become all too pervasive in public libraries over the last five years.”
In Orange County, Schaper, along with a group of outsiders, was accused of orchestrating racist and anti-semitic protests. Their behavior was labeled 'toxic' by locals, and Schaper's conduct in public meetings resulted in his arrest.
In Rio Rancho, N.M. Schaper was accused of threatening librarians over books for LGBT students, saying “families matter, marriage matters, and gay marriage is an onslaught on God’s natural order and His goodness. It’s also a stunning, devastating attack on our children and the future of any country.”
Schaper has disrupted public events of Hispanic leaders in California by calling them them “anchor baby” and “illegal alien.” Schaper has proudly touted his disruptions and cancellations of meetings by saying “Being nice doesn’t work.”
In July 2017, Schaper disrupted a gathering in Rep. Maxine Waters' 43rd California district. In a mostly Black crowed, he made derogatory comments, including calling the Congresswoman "the crazy Black lady," refusing to stop. Police eventually escorted him out, after which he alleged discrimination.
In July 2023, in Norwalk, CA, Schaper accused in public meetings that high school counselors at the Norwalk La Mirada Unified School District were “teaching kids they can change their sex like flipping a switch, it’s unacceptable.” He also spread unfounded claims on social media that Planned Parenthood trained the staff at the high school’s student center; he also falsely claimed that Planned Parenthood pushes an agenda of “sex mutilation” on students and influences them to be become transgender.
Schaper at Norwalk La Mirada School District, Norwalk CA
Schaper and his followers even went door to door in the community, dropping off fliers (see below) containing false statements about school board members, fueling public school culture wars against the Norwalk-La Mirada School District; according to local news.
Norwalk La Miranda Unified School District Superintendent John Lopez said, “It’s disappointing that we have an opportunity to help our community by giving them resources they need and groups are putting a spin on things that aren’t happening. LGBTQIA+ wasn’t even addressed in any of our frequently asked questions because that never came up until now.”
Just like in other communities, Kenosha's Mass Resistance chapter has begun distributing fliers in Kenosha targeting KUSD school board members (see below).
CONSERVATIVES IN KENOSHA INVITE SCHAPER'S INFLUENCE AND MIMIC HIS DIVISIVE TACTICS
Schaper and Kenosha MassResistance leaders are employing social media against KUSD school board members, the Superintendent, school staff and even private citizens in their effort to ban books from school libraries, citing them as 'pornographic.' The majority of books they have targeted contain LGBT characters.
Kenosha's MassResistance group appears to have collaborated with the right-wing anti-LGBT TikTok account, Libs of TikTok, known for instigating unprovoked social media harassment against teachers, hospitals, small businesses, and more.
A MassResistance Facebook post (below) suggested a social media backlash, regarding claims of explicit content in KUSD libraries, led to the shutdown of KUSDs Twitter account. This account formerly served the community and parents from 43 schools and 19,244 students.
Leaders in the Republican Party of Kenosha County, alongside Kenosha Moms for Liberty and MassResistance, are actively collaborating to ban books in KUSD schools, particularly targeting books with LGBT content (see below). They primarily target LGBT coming-of-age stories in graphic novels that explore teen self-discovery, including aspects of sexuality, gender identity, and expression. These books, popular among teens, are singled out for their visual format, which may make some parents uncomfortable. Critics often object without reading the content firsthand. You can read more about why these books are targeted as well as why they belong in our school libraries here.
BOOK BANNING TIES INTO CONSERVATIVE POLITICAL ACTIVISM
Parents have differing views on appropriate book content in schools, particularly regarding teen sexuality, gender, and LGBT themes.Many of the parents advocating for book bans are doing so because they believe it will protect students. You can read more about that here.
Conservative activists, including leaders of Kenosha County Republican Party and Kenosha Moms for Liberty, have used this issue to advance a political agenda and create distrust in public schools.
“There's no question that groups have formed on social media, that they are sharing excerpts from books—often under the heading that they're concerned about material and books—and they want other parents to know,” says Jonathan Friedman, director of free expression and education at the writers’ organization PEN America. “Sometimes that mingles with a much more insidious, skeptical, and critical point concerning schools and libraries in schools and their purpose. So it's difficult to draw the line in some cases between groups that are just concerned parents and groups that are active on other political causes.”
Some of the people, especially those leading the Republican Party of Kenosha County and Kenosha Moms for Liberty, are conservative political activists that have led ongoing attacks against KUSD schools, in part by fanning anxiety over book content and by sowing distrust of public schools, public teachers and curriculum.
Kenosha Moms for Liberty, which includes the local leader of MassResistance as well as leaders and elected officials of the Republican Party of Kenosha County, have opposed, for example, school closures during Covid, mask requirements, anti-trans bathroom access, Pride flags in classrooms, school and public library content, etc.
Kenosha's significance in the 2024 presidential election makes it a focal point for such efforts to recruit and mobilize concerned parents. Nationwide we've seen efforts to keep conservatives enraged and engaged over culture war issues as one way to recruit and activate concerned parents into conservative political activism.
Local conservatives partner with a White Nationalist anti-LGBT hate group to ban books in KUSD schools:
Caleb Michael Anthony Laitinen
Blaise J. Mahoney
Karen Ann Mahoney
Although he lives in California, Schaper is directing the actions of Kenosha's MassResistance leaders, bringing his extremism to our community. He has lead zoom recruiting meetings in Kenosha and also directed local Kenosha leaders in their actions, including obtaining a Freedom of Information Act request from the KUSD school district relating to a citizen who has disagreed with their book ban on social media (see below).
Despite residing in California, Schaper is actively guiding Kenosha's MassResistance leaders, introducing his extreme views to our community. He orchestrates actions, including leading recruitment meetings via Zoom, and instructs local leaders, as seen below, ito obtain a Freedom of Information Act request regarding a citizen who has voiced opposition to their book bans efforts on social media.
On August 22, 2023, Caleb Laitinen and Blaise Mahoney introduced Kenosha MassResistance at a KUSD School Board meeting. Laitinen cited a book containing a reference to racism and read a brief LGBT encounter. Mahoney criticized 'smut' in KUSD libraries, opposed certain flags as 'indoctrination,' and raised concerns about school clubs. He recommended adopting policies from MassResistance, labeled an anti-LGBT hate group. All three gave an interview to the Epoch Times claiming there was what they considered pornography in KUSD school libraries. Blaise Mahoney, a volunteer teacher at a local Catholic Church, the books in school libraries were so sexually explicit they resembled the tactics of sexual predators he claims he is trained to detect.
Karen Mahoney became triggered after learning of a Drag Queen Story Hour at the public library in the neighboring community of Racine, and she made it her mission to prevent it from coming to Kenosha. After breaking the rules of the library and being threatened with a ban, according to the Epoch Times, she partnered with the anti-LGBT extremist group MassResistance, saying she was "shocked" to learn how many books encourage "radical gender ideology."
Caleb Laitinen, also active in a local Catholic Church, claims Kenosha is in a "spiritual battle" to protect children from "corruption" from the books he and the Mahoney's disapprove of.
KENOSHA MASSRESISTANCE SUGGESTS FIRING OR EVEN IMPRISONING KUSD SCHOOL STAFF OVER BOOKS THEY OBJECT TO
Kenosha MassResistance has already influenced the removal of three LGBT titles from KUSD, with one more restricted. They vow to continue. Recently, they've insinuated that KUSD staff might face legal consequences for library content, intensifying their pressure campaign.
MASS RESISTANCE EVEN PUBLICLY ATTACKS PRIVATE CITIZENS WHO DISAGREE WITH THEM
MassResistance's political attacks extend beyond elected officials and school staff to private citizens who support diverse books in KUSD libraries. This includes targeting a member of the Kenosha County Democratic Party board for expressing her views on her personal Facebook page against book banning and for sharing news articles on Schaper's activities. Their use of hatred and intimidation to stifle voices is a recurring tactic.
Tweet by Arthur Schaper's MassResistance account against a Kenosha citizen
KENOSHA MASS RESISTANCE, KENOSHA MOMS FOR LIBERTY, AND THE KENOSHA REPUBLICAN PARTY ARE ALL INVOLVED IN POLITICAL ATTACKS ON LIBRARIES OVER BOOKS
Kenosha MassResistance collaborates with the Kenosha Moms for Liberty, with an overlap in participants. Moms for Liberty, founded by Republican Amanda Nedweski, is another national right-wing extremist group operates nationally and in Kenosha. Nedweski rode media attention over Moms for Liberty's action to elected seats on both the Kenosha County Board and the Wisconsin State Assembly. Both Kenosha MassResistance and Moms for Liberty express intent to continue removing books from schools, aligning with a broader nationwide strategy against public education. Two Moms for Liberty members now sit on the KUSD school board: Eric Meadows and Kristine Schmaling.
"The state leader of Moms for Liberty recently tweeted about their ongoing efforts to remove books from school libraries, enlisting grandparents in their strategy (likely because they tend to be more conservative and have free time). Attacking public schools over books is part of the underlying strategy the financial backers of Moms for Liberty employ to weaken public schools in order to privatize them.
Amanda Nedweski, a Republican, gained notoriety in Kenosha County for leading Moms for Liberty, which was responsible for disruptive Moms for Liberty actions at KUSD board meetings during COVID. This propelled her from activism to elected office.
During the February 2023 KUSD school board meeting, security was forced to shut it down due to safety concerns caused by disruptive members of Kenosha Moms for Liberty and the leader of Kenosha MassResistance. School board members had to be escorted to their cars afterwards. MassResistance displayed anti-LGBT signs and anti-abortion signs, which had nothing to do with KUSD business. Their mentor, Arthur Schaper, advocates for aggressive tactics: "Being nice doesn't work." However, their disruptive approach hindered the board's proceedings, intimidated others, and silenced different voices.
Kenosha Moms for Liberty have targeted Kenosha's Public Libraries, making various demands:
- No library member hand any reading material directly to a child; they must hand to a parent and the parent will hand to the child;
- Sever all affiliations with the National Endowment for the Arts because they consider the organization "partisan";
- Stop promoting the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Big Read program because they believe the NEA is partisan; members of Moms for Liberty protested this year's NEA Big Read book Homegoing, which featured the rape of a slave; their call to action against the library claimed the book is pornographic and may "stimulate a rapist to act out";
- Sever all affiliations with the NEA;
- Cancel all affiliations with the American Library Association, the oldest and largest library association in the world because they think it is "partisan"; the ALA has taken a strong stand in favor of the Freedom to Read;
- Remove posters that say "We Read Banned Books";
- Remove Trans Day of Visibility display;
- Do not honor LGBT month.
You can view the Secretary of Kenosha's Moms for Liberty addressing a Salem Library Board meeting this year. A community member in attendance expressed surprise at Moms for Liberty's demands to exert control over the Public Library.
The Republican Party of Kenosha County has actively joined with Kenosha Moms for Liberty and Kenosha MassResistance to restrict content in public libraries. Despite claiming to avoid politicizing libraries, they actively engage in book removal efforts for political purposes. This tactic mobilizes concerned parents into political action.
Kenosha's MassResistance Facebook page and the Republican Party of Kenosha County also share each other's content to amplify their book banning efforts.
WHICH LOCAL REPUBLICANS ARE SUPPORTING EXTREMISM?
Amanda Nedweski founded the local Moms for Liberty group and gained public office through the media attention garnered by their political disruptions. She attended actions in which members of Moms for Liberty, Kenosha MassResistance and the Republican Party of Kenosha County shut down KUSD school board meetings.
In the photo below, after another cancelled meeting due to disruption, Nedweski, members of Moms for Liberty and the Republican Party of Kenosha County dubbed themselves 'School Board Crashers.' The photo was taken following the February 2023 KUSD board meeting, which was shut down due to security concerns, involving members of MassResistance as well. The photo includes L to R: Amber Infusino, current head of Kenosha Moms for Liberty; Karen Stratton Bichanich and Kim Tjader Chesser, both members of Moms for Liberty; Sandy Wiedmeyer, Chair of the Republican Party of Kenosha County and Amanda Nedweski. Below that photo is a photo of Caleb Laitinen, Kenosha MassResistance, disrupting that same meeting.
Kenosha Moms for Liberty leader Amber Infusino also attended the national Moms for Liberty conference in Philadelphia in the summer of 2023. She is pictured at the conference (below).
Eric Meadows, a conservative and current KUSD school board member, is an active and vocal member the Kenosha Moms for Liberty group.
Like the members of the MassResistance, the Republican Party of Kenosha County, and Moms for Liberty, Meadows, a current KUSD school board member, is supporting efforts to ban books in Kenosha.
Meadows, known for controversial views, gained notoriety through political attacks on KUSD before his election to the school board. He uses social media to promote conservative culture war issues.
At a recent KUSD school board meeting Meadows opposed including 'for the greater good' in KUSD competence standards, claiming that encouraging good citizenship turns graduates into 'social justice warriors'. The majority of the school board disagreed with him.
Eric Meadows faced an election error by KUSD, leading to a lawsuit. However, he escalated and politicized the situation by alleging it was because of a 'left-wing conspiracy' in an appearance on Fox News. He spun the district's error into a divisive culture war, disrupting a KUSD board meeting and creating turmoil within the community. You can read more about this here and here.
Eric Meadows' chosen lawyer, Eric Kardall, has a controversial history in Wisconsin politics. He was involved in the baseless election claims following the 2020 election, contributing to a to an over $2 million politically-driven investigation. Kardall, associated with the John Birch Society, additionally filed over 20 unsuccessful lawsuits related to the election, which taxpayer dollars had to be used to defend.
KUSD School Board member Eric Meadows, center, is pictured below with members of the Kenosha Moms for Liberty group. His KUSD School Board and Moms for Liberty member, Kristine Schmaling, is also pictured (in white).
Schmaling herself is controversial, indicating in a social media post earlier this year that July should be commemorated as White History Month. She is in support of book banning efforts.
Schmaling was also recently photographed socializing with MassResistance's anti-LGBT extremist group leader, Caleb Laitinen (below).
Eric Meadows is also a "true friend" of Caleb Laitinen, Kenosha MassResistance leader, according to his social media post.
OTHER KENOSHA REPUBLICANS SOCIALIZE WITH HEAD OF KENOSHA MASSRESISTANCE, A NATIONAL ANTI-LGBT HATE GROUP
Caleb Laitinen, the head of Kenosha's anti-LGBT group MassResistance, has been pictured socializing with various prominent local Republicans, including Representative Bryan Steil.
So far NONE of these Republicans have publicly denounced MassResistance's anti-LGBT stance or the political attacks against KUSD school leaders and private citizens who disagree with them on banning books.
None of these Republicans have made pubic statements denouncing the involvement of Arthur Schaper, an identified White Nationalist, in the Kenosha community.
MassResistance's Caleb Laitinen with WI CD1 Representative Bryan Steil. Laitinen reports the Kenosha arm of an anti-LGBT hate group.
MassResistance's Caleb Laitinen with Republican Mayoral candidate Dave Bogdala
MassResistance's Caleb Laitinen with Republican County Board Supervisor Brian Thomas
MassResistance's Caleb Laitinen with Republican Party of Kenosha County 2nd Vice Chair Barb Griffin
Mass Resistance's Caleb Laitinen with Republican Party of Kenosha County 1st Vice Chair, Amy Nordloh (center, left)
MassResistance's Caleb Laitinen with Republican Party of Kenosha County Chair/Moms for Liberty member, Sandy Wiedmeyer
MassResistance leader Caleb Laitinen with Republican Kenosha County Supervisor, Gabe Nudo
What's going on with these book bans, anyway?
You can read more about that Here. Kenosha MassResistance, Kenosha Moms for Liberty and the Republican Party of Kenosha County have joined forces to ban books, so far containing primarily LGBT content.
EXTREMISM IS BAD FOR THE KENOSHA COMMUNITY, KENOSHA SCHOOLS AND KENOSHA STUDENTS.
Kenosha schools, leaders and community members are facing political attacks, with disruptions at school board meetings by groups like Moms for Liberty, MassResistance, and some members of the Republican Party of Kenosha County now morphing into an attack on books with primarily LGBT content.
Nationwide those attacks have also focused not just on books dealing with identity issues, but on books dealing with Black history and the Civil Rights movement as well.
These political attacks lead to school resource drain, potential lawsuits, and marginalization of LGBT individuals. They also have a negative impact on school staff and school board leaders.
The divisiveness, social media attacks, and erosion of trust in educators are detrimental to both our schools and community
DO BETTER, KENOSHA
The debate over appropriate school library content in KUSD is crucial. However, aligning with out-of-state anti-LGBT hate group agitators and engaging in extremist activities that target KUSD staff, leaders and its social media accounts as well as private citizens who disagree isn't productive or in our community's best interest.
Kenosha's parents and community members share a common goal: ensuring the safety and well-being of our children.
We can find better ways to accomplish that goal than sowing hatred and division to achieve it.