Saugus Union School District board member David Barlavi confirmed on Thursday a number of death threats prompted him to file a report with the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station after a group of protesters objected to him raising his fist during the pledge of allegiance at a school board meeting.
“(Sheriff’s deputies) are investigating (and) it’s like 10-plus threats,” Barlavi said, adding that he would not comment beyond that in regard to the investigation or what was specifically written in his statement to sheriff’s officials.
Barlavi, who represents the district’s Trustee Area No. 1, had received most of the threats after a video of him from one of the SUSD board meetings was posted on YouTube. In the video, he was participating in the pledge of allegiance alongside everyone else in attendance at the meeting, with his right hand over his heart, but his left hand in a fist raised into the air.
Barlavi said the gesture indicates his support for the Black Lives Matter movement, and it’s a practice he has done for years.
But after an image of Barlavi doing the same gesture at a Jan. 7 Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency board meeting was posted online, a group of protesters attended Tuesday night’s SUSD board meeting to speak during the public comment segment of the meeting. The comments included some calling Barlavi’s act “un-American, unpatriotic” and others asking for censure:
“You need to respect the flag and what Americans stand for,” said Raul Rodriguez Jr., one of the protesters who spoke against Barlavi at the board meeting. “Someday you’re going to run across the wrong person, and he’s going to … I don’t know what he’s going to do… but it’s not going to be good for you.”
A video of the meeting was posted to YouTube Thursday morning by someone with the username “grindall61,” and as of 1:50 p.m. has over 200 comments. A number of the comments include racial or anti-semitic epithets, while others allude to suggested violence against Barlavi.
One comment reads, “I agree. This joke should be hanged at the closest light post.”
Another, from a profile named Anti-Zionist Dragon says, “This guy needs a lead injection.”
As of Thursday afternoon, Sheriff’s Station officials said they’re still looking into the matter, and have not yet released the report, according to Shirley Miller, a spokeswoman for the SCV Sheriff’s Station.