GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — A Gwinnett County Public Schools board meeting had not even started yet Thursday night when two moms were stopped and arrested on their way in. Both Karen Prinkle and Brenda Stewart say they were there to advocate for their children, but neither expected to be taken to jail.
Cell phone video shows Karen Prinkle as she tried to enter the meeting while not wearing a face mask. She says she was banned by the school board for 12 months after not wearing a mask at the October meeting.
"You can call me a Karen, you can call me whatever you want– I don't care, I'm a mom who is so frustrated that my child comes home with headaches every day," Prinkle said.
Prinkle said at this point, masks no longer make any sense and she does not think it's good for the children of the district to be forced to keep wearing them.
"I understand why we first started the masks but there's no need for them now and that's why I took the steps I did, did I think they would arrest me I don't know," Prinkle said.
While she was being handcuffed, Brenda Stewart was in line behind her. Stewart says they didn't really even know each other until last night, but when Prinkle yelled out for someone to please grab her phone, Stewart wanted to help. That's when Stewart says she quickly put down her bag and walked through the metal detector to get Prinkle's phone for her.
And that's when a school resource officer looked in Stewart's bag and found her crochet tools, including a small pair of round-tip children's scissors.
According to the school district statement:
"(Prinkle) is not allowed on and GCPS property....the other person (Stewart) rushed through the metal detector ...during a search of her bag, scissors were found. She was told she could not bring those in. She grabbed for the scissors, struggling with the officer."
Stewart says she only tried to get the scissors back so she could leave the meeting and go home. She says any narrative that paints her as an aggressor is embarrassing and not accurate. She says she ended up with bruises around her writs from being handcuffed.
"I still can not get my mind around the fact that I went to jail over what happened last night," Stewart said. "I think they're trying to make examples of us. I think they're trying to deter parents from getting involved, we see what's going on in the country– there's a lot of confusion and concern from parents who want a say in the education."
Prinkle ended up being charged with trespassing and Stewart is facing a charge of obstruction. They both paid $1,300 in bail to get out of jail and are now waiting to find out when their court dates will be.