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Man's Response at Contentious School Board Meeting: Strip

James Akers made his point on masks by showing how he didn't want to follow other everyday rules
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 25, 2021 9:06 AM CDT

(Newser) – School board meetings around the country have been going off the rails on COVID safety protocols, and now it's Texas' turn. The San Marcos Daily Record notes that even though Monday's gathering for the Dripping Springs Independent School District was meant to focus on such mundane agenda items as financials and construction updates, parent after parent got up during the public-forum portion of the meeting to support the district's current mask-optional protocol for students and staff, with one mom insisting to the board, "It is not your job to be the health department." There were also parents advocating for masks, but none of them caught the crowd's attention as much as James Akers, dad of a student at the local high school.

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His turn at the mic led to "an unexpected moment," per KXAN, which shows video that picks up at the point where a shirtless (but mask-wearing) Akers drops his pants, continuing his speech in his underwear. "I do not like the government or any other entity—just ask my wife—telling me what to do," Akers said as he first began to strip down, per the Record. "At work, they make me wear this jacket. I hate it. They make me wear this shirt and tie. I hate it." As he continued to undress, with security officers moving ever closer, Akers also sarcastically noted that on his way to the meeting he ran a bunch of red lights and stop signs, drove really fast, and parked in a handicapped spot, simply because he wanted to.

The Hays Free Press notes that Akers' speech was accompanied by some amount of cheering. Akers then said, in all seriousness: "It's simple protocol, people. We follow certain rules for a very good reason." His stunt ended when the school board's president wryly noted, "I believe you're a swimmer, but if you wouldn't mind putting your pants back on for a comment, that would be greatly appreciated." The Record notes he did just that and sat down, but not before giving one of the security officers a fist bump.

KXAN caught up with Akers, this time wearing all his clothes, after the meeting. "There's too many voices out there that I think are digging in for political reasons, and absolutely just not thinking about the common sense decisions we make every day to comply with everything," he said. The Free Press notes that, as of now, the Dripping Springs district has no plans to change its protocol on masks for students, teachers, and staff, which highly recommends them but doesn't mandate them. (Read more Texas stories.)

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