Yorba Linda Trustee Responds to Criticism for Attending Trump Rally

Yorba Linda Trustee Responds to Criticism for Attending Trump Rally
Protesters mass in front of the U.S. Capitol building in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021. (Courtesy of Mark Simon)

A trustee for the Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District (PYLUSD) who was once part of an anti-terrorism effort by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department following the 9/11 attacks says her attendance at the pro-President Donald Trump rally in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6 doesn't make her a "terrorist" or an "insurrectionist," as her detractors have claimed.

Leandra Blades went on a “girls’ trip” to Washington to hear Trump speak because she’s always wanted to go to one of his rallies, she told The Epoch Times on Jan. 18. A social media post by one of her girlfriends included a photo of them at the rally; that image was later used by people within the school district to demand her resignation, she said.

“I’m not resigning. I’m not backing down. I’m not going to hide just because I have a conservative viewpoint,” Blades said.

The photo was taken before the breach of the Capitol building, where rioting ultimately resulted in five deaths.

A group on Change.org named PYLUSD Against Terrorism claims that Blades, in a social media post about the Capitol breach, “supported the domestic terrorists while spreading false information, referring to those who attended the rally (and eventually rioted) as ‘patriots’ and blamed the fictional organization ‘ANTIFA’ for the actions committed by the ‘patriots’ she so openly supports.”

A Change.org petition demanding her resignation had garnered thousands of signatures as of Jan. 18.

“There is a group of students in our school district who have started an Instagram page called ‘PYLUSD Against Terrorism,’” Blades said. “I’m a retired police officer, and after 9/11, I was a terrorism liaison officer for the department I worked for.

“It’s awful to be called a terrorist when all I’ve ever done as a law enforcement officer is wanting to uphold the law. I believe in law and order. I’m a strong supporter of our Constitution, and I’m a strong supporter for the Constitution for both sides.”

She added, “I’m not a terrorist, and I’m not an insurrectionist—not any one of these things that I’ve been called.”

Blades, who became a trustee for the PYLUSD near the end of 2020, said she believes people are reacting to her conservative views.

“We left the rally because we heard that there was violence inside and that’s not what I was there for, that’s not what my friends were there for, that’s not what the people around us were there for,” Blades said.

Prior to the storming of the building, there was a lot of singing of "God Bless America," she said.

“There was a lot of waving of flags. It wasn’t until my husband texted me and asked if I was OK. I said ‘yes’, and then, he said: ‘Someone’s been shot inside the Capitol.’ My response was that I don’t believe anyone was inside the Capitol. That was when he told me ‘No, there’s people inside the Capitol and there’s people taking selfies inside Nancy Pelosi’s office.”

Blades says that from her group’s perspective, everything appeared calm.

“We were at the Capitol standing around watching everything go on. That’s why we were so shocked to hear that anyone is inside the Capitol Building. It was kind of bizarre because we weren’t seeing anything. We just saw people waving flags.”

Blades's efforts to respond to her accusers have been emboldened conservative parents and students in the district, she said. A group called Freedom of Speech has started its own Change.org petition, called Stand with Leandra Blades, in a show of support for her.

“Parents in the district have come out and told me they feel like they have no voice whatsoever because they feel like if they come out and just tell their beliefs that they will be bullied so bad. They are bullied into silence.”

She said schools should start looking to keep “the politics and the social justice issues out of the classroom and going back to teaching the subjects that we are there to teach.

“We can do so much better not just as a community, but as a nation.”