Two mute, masked and costumed protesters on hand for the Sept. 3 screening of a documentary about the Douglas County School Board were revealed as teenage boys, paid for their time by an unknown person or source. The two were carrying signs reading, “Grinches for union control.”
Protesters attired in the same costumes — Santa suits with Grinch masks — have stood several times outside the Douglas County School District administration building during controversial meetings, and appeared at a June 14 parent protest at Lone Tree’s Marriott hotel.
Castle Rock filmmaker Brian Malone debuted a documentary critical of DCSD’s education reforms at the center Sept. 3. About 200 people attended the screening.
Parker police, called because the teens reportedly were standing on private property at the Mainstreet Center, asked the two to remove their masks.
“The kids said some guy paid them to stand there,” Parker Police Sgt. Andy Coleman said, adding the teens were cooperative and quickly moved to public property. “They didn’t know for what reason, but he just paid them so they did. The kids didn’t know what the signs meant.”
The kids aren’t the only ones baffled by the signs, or the Grinches' messages.
Five Grinches first appeared outside the DCSD administration building for a March school board meeting, distributing messages to those who entered the building.
“The nerve of those Whos … those parents … and the teachers who don’t want union dues stripped from their paycheck,” the note read. “They want more choices! We want to take away the choices. Choices bad. Union good. We know best. Signed: Grinches and the Douglas County Teachers Union.”
DCSD officials said they had no knowledge of the Grinches’ identity or connections to them. The Douglas County Federation teachers’ union also said the Grinches are not tied to their organization.
“We are in no way affiliated with anybody that would show up dressed in costume and cover their faces,” union vice president Courtney Smith said. “They are purposely trying to mislead people to believe they were representing the union.”