Good Evening Takoma Park Ward 1,
I wanted to send out the information that I have from the Takoma Park Police Department about the arrest of Taylor Taranto and from Montgomery County Public Schools about the incident at Piney Branch Elementary School. I am sharing this because I myself got misinformation from friends and from the news. Misinformation can be empowering for extremists like Mr. Taranto.
I am often copied on emails from residents to our police department. The TPPD isn’t always able to release as much information as we might like, but they go through great efforts to make sure it is factual.
As a mother of four, one of which attends PBES, I know what it is like to be scared for the safety of children. If you want to talk, please know that I am available. I know how terrorism weighs on us all. Feelings of anxiety or depression from these events are valid; please consider reaching out to a mental health expert and don’t further empower extremists by burdening yourself with loneliness.
Information Related to the Arrest of Taylor Taranto
July 6, 2023
As reported by the news media, Taylor Taranto was arrested on June 29, 2023, near former President Barack Obama’s home in Washington D.C. by federal authorities on numerous charges stemming from the January 6th riot at the U. S. Capitol. Prosecutors are requesting that he be held without bail. The Washington Post reported that Taranto had live-streamed from within the Piney Branch Elementary School on June 18th and the excerpt from the article is below:
Separately, prosecutors said that on June 18, Taranto live-streamed himself and several others entering a gymnasium and displaying a Jan. 6-related film at Piney Branch Elementary School in Takoma Park, just north of Washington. Prosecutors said Taranto said he chose the school because it was close to the home of Raskin, a four-term Democrat who has been a leading congressional critic of Donald Trump. – Washington Post Report by Emily Davies.
Members of the Takoma Park Police Department have been in close contact with federal and local law enforcement partners concerning the incident involving Taylor Taranto. Currently, there is no active threat against any facility in the City or the community. In reference to the incident at the Piney Branch Elementary School, the police department did not receive or respond to any calls related to a burglary, trespass, or suspicious situation at the school. We are investigating the incident and remain in contact with the MCPS School Security and Piney Branch Elementary School staff. Our understanding is that an organization known as Make America Safe Again rented the cafeteria through the Montgomery County Office of Community Use of Public Facilities (CUPF) to host a film-showing that Taranto attended. If we determine that a crime occurred, we will work with our law enforcement partners to file charges as appropriate.
The Police Department wants to emphasize that there is no active threat against our community at this time. We are always proactively working with our law enforcement partners to ensure the safety of our community.
Public Information Officer
Takoma Park Police Department
From PBES Principal Oberdorf:
Dear Piney Branch Families,
I hope this message finds you well. I am writing to you today to address concerns that have arisen from recent news reports alleging improper use of our school facilities by an individual now under arrest by the United States government. I understand that such news can be distressing, and I want to assure you that we are taking this matter seriously and prioritizing the safety and security of our students and staff.
I would like to provide you with accurate and detailed information regarding the incident to clarify any misconceptions. According to available information, on June 17, 2023, a group that advocates for participants of the January 6 insurrection called Make America Safe Again or MASA requested and received a booking for our school's cafeteria from 8:00 PM to 11:30 PM. The purpose of their booking was to show a film. It is important to note that public facilities in Montgomery County are made available for permitted use through the Montgomery County Office of the Community Use of Public Facilities or CUPF. The booking made by MASA was in accordance with the established protocols and procedures for community use through that office.
However, I want to emphasize that the individual named Mr. Taylor Taranto, who has been arrested by the U. S. government and remains in custody, was not part of the permit request submitted to CUPF by MASA. This incident is currently under investigation, and Montgomery County Public Schools is cooperating fully with law enforcement and the county Community Use of Public Facilities as all parties work to fully understand all the facts.
Please be assured that the safety and security of our students, staff, and facilities remain our utmost priority. We continually strive to provide a safe environment for all users of our school facilities. While incidents like these serve as reminders of the dynamic nature of community events and the challenges they may present, please know that we are committed to working in collaboration with our community partners to provide safe and inclusive spaces for all.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding this matter, please do not hesitate to contact me directly at Christine_D_Oberdorf@mcpsmd.org. I am here to address any concerns you may have and provide any necessary support.
Thank you for your understanding, cooperation, and ongoing trust in our commitment to the safety and well-being of our Piney Branch community.
Mrs. Christine (Chris) Oberdorf
Principal, Piney Branch Elementary School