A far-right takeover is happening throughout the country at the local level. In Florida, at least half a dozen former and current members of the neo-fascist Proud Boys have secured official positions with the Miami-Dade Republican Party. Across the country, white nationalist propagandist Vincent James Foxx relocated from California to the small Idaho town of Post Falls, where he’s already cozied up with far-right politicians as high-ranking as the Lieutenant Governor and expressed interest in running for local races himself. These are just a few examples.
School boards have become hot spots for the far-right to make their presence known. During the COVID-19 pandemic, fascist militias and affiliates of various “patriot” movements responded to school safety measures by literally storming school board meetings in Vail, AZ and Portland, OR. In Washington, over a dozen Three Percenters have quickly gained political positions throughout the state, including five school board seats.
Similarly, a member of an Arizona sect of Three Percenters has been identified to be running for Deer Valley Unified School District in Phoenix.
Paul Alan Carver Jr. made no real attempt to hide his connection to the The Union of Three Percenter American Patriots (UTPAP), which displays the traditional III% logo of the far-right militia movement. UTPAP is registered as a non-profit under the Arizona Corporate Commission with Carver named as the lead agent; he even lists his own home for their registered address, which also matches the address under his candidate statement of interest.
The Three Percenters are a decentralized militia movement that spawned out of the Obama-era. They’re often described as “anti government” but they’re more than happy to take local political offices to get what they want. UTPAP is only one of many chapters spread throughout the country. Over 330 different Three Percenter groups were active between 2016 and 2019. Throughout the years, members affiliated with Three Percenter groups have been connected to violence, including the bombing of the Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington, MN. Three Percenters were also present for Unite the Right in Charlottesville, VA and several members have been indicted for charges related to the January 6 Capitol attack. In Canada, the Three Percenters are a designated terrorist group alongside other extremist networks like the Proud Boys, Atomwaffen Division, and The Base.
On UTPAP’s website, the first two questions on their FAQ lazily attempts to address the accusations they’re racists and domestic terrorists.
“The government says Three Percenters are domestic terrorists,” the website asks before immediately disregarding the question and blaming the label on a “rumor” started by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Carver already has a small presence in Arizona conservative politics, serving as a precinct committeeman in Legislative District 15. On September 6, 2020, he also co-hosted “Silent No More Red Wave Vehicle Parade,” a dud caravan-protest where he and about two dozen vehicles drove around the valley in support of Trump. Others in attendance included 2020 Phoenix Mayoral candidate Merissa Hamilton and Gateway Pundit disinformation writer and alleged domestic abuser Jordan Conradson.
On April 4, Carver spoke and gathered signatures at a North Valley Constitutional Republicans meeting in Anthem at Amped Coffee Company. Carver’s speech focused on the usual conservative school board-related grievances like “critical race theory.”
North Valley Constitutional Republicans founder Basil Fernimos hosts the bi-monthly meetup where aspiring politicians like Carver and conspiracy theory-friendly Gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake campaign to the crowd. Last year, Fernimos told Anthem-based newsite, The Foothills Focus, he was previously active with the local militia movement but he’s also listed as an incorporator for the Union Of Three Percenter American Patriots. Fernimos’ own Facebook page also lists the website for the Anthem Minutemen under his “Intro” section.
“I started in the militia in Arizona,” Fernimos told The Foothills Focus. “I decided that the more realistic and intelligent path was to take the political way first and use that as a backup.”
The North Valley Constitutional Republicans is affiliated with the D.C.-based conservative interest group FreedomWorks, known for its role in boosting the Tea Party and blatant climate denialism. FreedomWorks also tries to get far-right candidates elected and hosts seminars to train potential candidates. In May, FreedomWorks hosted a “Parents Know Best” conference with “critical race theory” propagandist James Lindsay and potential school board candidates, including Paul Carver.
Unsurprisingly, Carver’s political activism at Deer Valley Unified also includes leading a hate campaign against LGBTQ+ students. At a March “School Board Candidate Night,” Carver explained the reason he decided to run:
“We have so many different things attacking \\\\\[children’s\] innocence. They don’t get to make it to 18 anymore and still be children. They get to school as early as preschool and kindergarten and they have to deal with ‘does Johnny really think he’s a boy’ and that kind of nonsense. And that’s unacceptable, so I need for us to get back to a more basic kind of schooling.”
For the April 12 Deer Valley Unified School District board meeting, Paul Carver organized parents to speak out against the upcoming Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network’s “Day of Silence.” The GLSEN Day of Silence is a decades-old annual event where students take a day-long vow of silence in solidarity with LGBTQ students. No official event related to the Day of Silence was being hosted by the district.
Carver’s complaint lay with an email that circulated amongst district principals, teachers, and staff to inform one another that students might be participating in the Day of Silence or wear tape over their mouths, a popular symbolic gesture on the day. DVUSD was not officially endorsing, prohibiting, or coordinating any school-related events but Carver used his 3-minutes of allotted time to whine about it anyway.
“And if this topic were to be discussed, then it falls under the umbrella of sexual education. This, in turn, requires if not legally, then ethically for parental permissions to be involved. The school is not the place to teach or preach sexual alignment or personal beliefs,” Carver said at the DVUSD board meeting.
The school district didn’t cancel the event they weren’t hosting in the first place, so in response Carver encouraged parents to keep their children home “as not to expose them to this lunacy.”
Carver’s nonsensical grievances over GLSEN’s Day of Silence was just one of many recent hate campaigns against the LGBTQ+ community. Another nearby school district, Peoria Unified, was also experiencing similar complaints over a faculty email explaining that some students might be wearing the colors of the trans flag in support of Trans Day of Visibility. Again, there were no actual events being sponsored by the district, the email was simply to encourage teachers to be supportive of any LGBTQ+ students possibly participating on their own free will. Yet, PUSD was also met with angry Republicans complaining about the possibility of LGBTQ+ students existing, including Peoria School Board candidate Heather Rooks and Jan. 6th participant and state senate candidate Anthony Kern.
The far-right taking over more positions of power coinciding with the increased legislative attacks against the LGBTQ community is no coincidence. Arizona has been particularly hostile, with Republican legislators trying to pass over a dozen restrictions on LGBTQ rights. Some bills failed, while others are on indefinite hold but next session will surely see more anti-LGBTQ bills introduced. As LCRW previously reported, two transphobic bills were signed into law by Gov. Doug Ducey on the eve of the year’s Trans Day of Visibility, one targeting healthcare for trans youth, the other banning trans women from school sports.
Sponsors of many of these passed and proposed anti-LGBTQ+ laws included Oath Keeper lawmakers Wendy Rogers, Quang Nguyen and Mark Finchem. Rogers has openly expressed her hatred for the LGBTQ community, regularly referring to transgender people by slurs, characterizing LGBTQ people as “groomers,” and “joking” about trans people being killed. Rep. Jake Hoffman, who operated a troll farm for anti-LGBTQ hate organization Turning Point USA, also sponsored of several the anti-LGBTQ bills over the last session, including one that sought to ban books with any mention of “homosexuality.”
In May, the Arizona Republican Party even targeted an LGBTQ+ student chat room resource service provided by the Arizona Department of Education. The attacks mirrored a similar right-wing hate campaign against the Trevor Project and was amplified by the anti-LGBTQ+ hate account Libs of TikTok run by New York real estate saleswoman and Capitol riot attendee Chaya Raichik. In a fundraising email, the AZ GOP characterized the LGBTQ online resource as a “groomer-inspired sex chat.”
Carver’s campaign for DVUSD school board has been endorsed by councilmember for Peoria’s Mesquite District Brad Shafer and Rep. Steve Kaiser. Kaiser was the lead sponsor of HB 2161, which expanded Arizona’s “Parental Bill of Rights” and originally included a measure that would force teachers to out LGBTQ students to their parents. In North Carolina, lawmakers are also seeking to pass a Parental Bill of Rights that would specifically target LGBTQ students and includes a similar measure that would require teachers to forcibly out trans students to their parents. Carver’s campaign has heavily highlighted his own support for the Parental Bill of Rights.
“The pro-education Democratic groups need to take a deeper look at what the extreme-right and GOP groups are doing to support school board candidates who are actively trying to destroy public education. They need to step up and protect education at all levels, not just the bigger races,” a local parent who asked not to be named at DVUSD told LCRW news.
DVUSD is no stranger to school board controversy. In March, TorchAntifa identified Arizona Legislative District 20 Republican committeemen William “Bill" Fisher as a longtime white supremacist. Fisher operated virulently racist social media accounts under the pseudonym “Preston Brooks,” a nod to the pro-slavery Representative revered by white supremacists for beating an abolitionist to near-death. Under the numerous alts, including an active account on the neo-Confederate site Occidental Dissent, Bill Fisher openly referred to Black and Jewish people by slurs, praised Hitler, and fantasized about lynchings. Bill’s wife, Kim Fisher, was aware of the racist activities of her husband as she followed his pseudonym account on Gab and Facebook and openly expresses pro-Confederate views herself. Parents called for Fisher to resign, but she refused.
“We will have to decide on the best two candidates for DVUSD and promote them a lot because the liberal team will work hard,” Kim Fisher commented on a post of Carver’s.
Paul Alan Carver Jr. did not respond to LCRW’s request for comment.
ARIZONA RIGHT WING WATCH
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