By Jen Green
Local parents, citizens, and grassroots organizations are expressing concern over the proposed scenario for a “domestic terrorism/school shooting” mock drill to be performed in a rural Iowa school district this weekend.
In a document dated March 21, 2011, the Pottawattamie County Emergency Management Agency in conjunction with the Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program (HSEEP), Pottawattamie county officials outlined their emergency response plan for a mock school shooting/terrorism exercise scheduled for Saturday, March 26, 2011, at Treynor Community Schools. The plan, Operation Closed Campus, is described as a full scale plan and exercise used to educate players in the proper response of a domestic terrorism or school shooting.
Troublesome to parents and community members is the proposed scenario to be acted out by the students, staff, faculty members, and emergency response teams. The scenario details two white males, ages 17 and 18, with ties to anti-immigration groups and gun enthusiasts, opening fire on a group of minority students, hitting a Hispanic student. The scenario then develops into “full-scale chaos” with both white male suspects shooting indiscriminately. In the official documentation, the scenario is described as:
“In the past 6 months, the City of Treynor and Treynor Community School District has received a significant influx of minority residents. Increasing economic instability and public service cuts in a neighboring metropolitan area had forced minority populations into smaller, more affordable rural communities where commodities and cost of living is significantly less. The economic migration of minority residents, both legal and non-legal into Pottawattamie County Communities has sparked controversy regarding national immigration policies as well as racial tensions with a few embedded, typically silent, white supremacy affiliates. This tension has sparked public demonstrations, propelled city and state illegal immigrant legislation proposals and the law enforcement community has seen an increase in incidents of racially motivated crimes and incidents. Earlier in the school week, staff found a hand-written note left on a cafeteria table that stated “If you won’t get rid of them, we will.” Similar notes have been found twice before over the past 3 months. Law enforcement, aware of the situation, have found no strong evidence to take action or make an arrest Similar occurrences have happened in other schools and public places over the past 6 months throughout the region.
Students were sent home with permission slips to participate in the exercise. One parent whose daughter was slated to participate in the mock drill, after reading the proposed scenario expressed concern over the scenario and its perceived anti-white, pro-illegal immigrant stance.
He was told by the local EMS coordinator in charge that his daughter was no longer allowed to participate in the drill and that she nor her father were allowed to be on site on the day of the drill. Local grassroots organizations have actively begun to reach out to local authorities, legislators, and media outlets to express their concern that, as one community member says, “There has never been an incident such as the one they are manufacturing here in the State of Iowa or any other for that matter. This is highly politically motivated, racially inflammatory, and completely egregious.”
Operation Closed Campus’s stated mission is to evaluate the emergency response processes in a “no-fault” setting. The exercise is slated to begin at 9 a.m. Central Time and run for four hours.