Arizona father Rishi Rambaran arrested after angry trio threatened to tie up principal over COVID rules

Police arrested a 40-year-old Arizona father after breaking into an elementary school principal’s office with a friend waving plastic handcuffs, insisting the administration broke the law by asking her child and six others to wear masks and self-quarantine after coming in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19.

“I can tell you that the end result of this incident was that we made a trespassing arrest,” Sgt. Richard Gradillas of the Tucson, Arizona Police Department told The Daily Beast, identifying the arrested father as Rishi Rambaran.

On Thursday, two men accompanied Rambaran as he ambushed Principal Diane Vargo as she sat with another educator at Mesquite Elementary School in Tucson. One of the men, Kelly Walker, broadcast the incident live on his Instagram, explaining that Rambaran, also known as “Reese”, called him and asked him to be there in case he was there. would need reinforcement.

The third man, who has not been identified, stood in the doorway of Vargo’s office with a handful of “police-grade” zippers on hand, as the trio prepared to proceed. to citizen arrest, Walker said. (The live video has since been removed.)

“When this type of coercion and intimidation is carried out by school administrators breaking the law, arresting a citizen is an option worth considering,” Walker wrote on Facebook.

Gradillas told the Daily Beast that in his 14 years of service he had “never seen the arrest of a citizen.”

The Vail School District COVID policy follows public health guidelines issued by Pima County, which require students to quarantine themselves at home for at least a week after exposure. In fact, the school followed Pima rules and did not break any laws by requiring students to mask themselves or quarantine themselves.

Walker, a local marketing strategist and copywriter, co-owns a cafe in Tucson with his wife and in-laws. The store, which describes itself as “Tucson’s center of freedom and delicious coffee,” recently held a meeting with far-right author and convicted criminal Dinesh D’Souza. Next month Walker, who compared Thursday’s elementary school dust to Rosa Parks’ fight for equal rights, will welcome Matthew Lohmeier, a disgraced Space Force lieutenant colonel who was fired from his duties in May because of a self-published book warning of an impending “white genocide”, as well as a “neo-Marxist program” within the military “designed to patiently and methodically topple the US government and replace it with a communist dictatorship “.

The surreal event at Mesquite Elementary began with a message from Rambaran, Walker said in a video he released while driving to meet him.

“I’m currently heading to Mesquite Elementary School, where a friend has just informed me and others that his son has been indiscriminately taken to the office to be quarantined because supposedly someone had decided that he, but not the other children in that class, were exposed to COVID. said Walker, a father of five who is said to have homeschooled his own children. “And they put a mask on his face, didn’t let him call his parents, and now his dad. is here… [T]The school is flagrantly breaking the law, going against the will of the people. I think this community has expressed that they are not going to experience this kind of bullying from our kids, these kind of scary tactics.

In fact, administrators at Mesquite Elementary had reported a positive case of COVID to the Pima County Department of Health, which requires schools to provide the names of anyone who has been exposed to someone who tested positive for the virus.

Walker said he was ready to “sow hell” and insisted the school couldn’t take the law “in hand” by ordering a student to self-quarantine.

Once inside Vargo’s office, the Headmaster listened patiently to Rambaran and Walker trying to convince her to rescind the quarantine order. In a since-deleted video shot by Walker, Rambaran can be seen calling the police and asking them to arrest Vargo. If Rambaran’s child was not allowed to return to the classroom immediately, the group said they were ready to make a citizen arrest.

Vargo, who did not respond to a request for comment, then asked the three to vacate the premises. When they refused, Vargo came out and called the police. The trio left the scene before the cops arrived.

Rambaran was taken into custody about two hours after the crash and was later released, according to Gradillas. In a follow-up video recorded by Walker and posted on his cafe’s Instagram page, Rambaran complains, “They described me as that monster… They cried and whimpered about how I refused to leave,” saying to Walker that the police “after you and the other party” who were there.

Rishi Rambaran interviewed by Walker after the incident.

Instagram / screenshot

Police showed up at Walker’s Cafe after the incident, but he dodged them and wrote on Instagram: “Come back with a warrant.” Gradillas confirmed to the Daily Beast that more arrests “may be made”.

Walker, perhaps unsurprisingly, sees things a little differently.

“No one” planned “to make an arrest,” Walker wrote in an email to the Daily Beast. “No one has been ‘threatened’. The father asked the officer to respond, come to school, and shut down the administration because it was currently breaking the law by forcing children to put on masks (meanwhile, administrators were NOT wearing masks themselves). The officer asked the father to go to the police station and file the report. The father asked for written documents explaining why they had taken his son away, and once he received it, he left. The police did not show up to the school until 2 hours later.

Rambaran could not be reached for comment. Walker did not respond when asked if he could provide his contact details.

For some, Walker is simply a pest. For others, it is someone who “takes a stand”. He doesn’t hide his extreme views and uses his cafe blog as a platform to promulgate them, including the mistaken belief that the 2020 presidential election was stolen by anti-Trump Democrats.

“The 2020 elections were blatantly fraudulent; treacherous usurpers are now in power from the White House, ”Walker wrote in July. “As a result, the American people have been hampered by gross violations of our civil rights without recourse or restoration. It is high time to declare our independence as a sovereign nation of the free people and to inform this governing oligarchy that it no longer has the consent of the governed.

Walker also claims to believe that the United States is “on a sure and certain path to democide,” as he wrote in late August, comparing government mask mandates and vaccine guidelines to “the Holocaust in August. Germany, the Warsaw Ghetto genocide, the murder of millions of people. of the Russians and the Chinese under communist regimes, Cambodia’s death fields.

Anti-government sentiment aside, Walker applied for – and received – a P3 loan in May 2020 for nearly $ 13,000. It has been fully forgiven by the Small Business Administration, according to ProPublica’s PPP tracker.

Last September, Walker was arrested at a Pima County Board of Directors meeting for refusing to stop using foul language. In October, after three unsuccessful inspections for ignoring Pima’s masking and social distancing requirements, Walker’s cafe was shut down by county health inspectors. Upon reopening, Walker posted a photo of white supremacist meme Pepe the Frog on Facebook, which he captioned: “Seller [sic] of the month. ”Area residents who complained were doxed.

“I work really hard to wake people up,” Walker said on social media last week.

On Monday, Walker posted a tribute to a friend, father and anti-masker who recently succumbed to COVID. The man was a border patrol officer and father of three named Chad McBroom.

The Vail Unified School District, which includes Mesquite Elementary School, has not been short of rowdy interactions with parents who reject public health guidelines under the guise of “freedom.” In April, police had to be called in to maintain order when dozens of unmasked parents forced their way into a school board meeting and refused to leave.

The question closely mirrors similar situations occurring across the country. In Pennsylvania, a dispute over masking requirements for elementary school students recently resulted in death threats that led to a board member resigning. A California parent allegedly assaulted his daughter’s teacher last month after seeing their child walk out of the school building with a face covering. In late August, a 50-year-old Florida man was arrested and charged with aggravated child abuse after a masking dispute with a high school student turned physical. Teachers saw their masks ripped off by angry parents and were the targets of relentless verbal abuse.

According to official data, there is currently an active COVID case at Mesquite Elementary School. Across the district, 47 students and eight staff members were positive for the virus as of August 29. The district said it will send a letter to parents of students at Mesquite Elementary regarding Thursday’s incident.

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