An audience member was booted Tuesday from a school board meeting in Birmingham, Mich., where an indoor mask mandate was passed, after giving a Nazi salute. Suzanne Busdiecker had joined a friend at the podium at the Birmingham Public Schools board meeting as the friend spoke in support of the mask mandate, announced Monday, Busdiecker tells the Detroit Free Press. The friend had been heckled as she discussed losing a loved one to COVID-19, Busdiecker says. Then as the pair turned to leave, "there was this man that raised his hand in the heil Hitler sign, and I just kind of froze," says Busdiecker, who is Jewish. "I don't take that lightly."
Police immediately removed the man and the incident was not included on footage of the meeting posted to YouTube. "Birmingham Public Schools emphatically denounces and will not tolerate any act of racism, disrespect, violence, and/or inequitable treatment of any person," Superintendent Embekka Roberson wrote in a Wednesday email to community members. It wasn't the only disruption at the meeting, at which audience members booed and interrupted speakers. The president of the district's board had to remind the crowd "to please respect each other."
This wasn't the first time a Nazi salute has appeared at a school board meeting regarding mask mandates. A man directed a Nazi salute at school board members of the Fox Chapel Area School District outside Pittsburgh, Penn., after they passed a mask mandate at a meeting on Aug. 9, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Within seconds, another audience member yelled, "You made Dr. Mengele proud!" in reference to the Nazi doctor who performed medical experiments on Auschwitz prisoners. That Nazi salute featured on John Oliver's Last Week Tonight, per the Daily Beast and Hollywood Reporter. (Read more school board stories.)