Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

Moms for Liberty school board member arrested for shoplifting from Target

Keri Blair, 43, was arrested on 5 January for property theft charges

Martha McHardy
Friday 12 January 2024 16:34 GMT
Right-wing group ‘Moms for Liberty’ call police over library book

A Tennessee school board member tied to the conservative group Moms for Liberty was arrested after allegedly shoplifting from Target on seven different occasions.

Keri Blair, 43, was arrested on 5 January for property theft charges after purportedly “skip-scanning” items at Target self-checkout stations seven different times between 25 November and 20 December, a Collierville Police spokesperson said.

The allegedly stolen items amounted to $728.61, the spokesperson added.

Blair had served as part of the Collierville School Board, but resigned following the charges against her, citing “personal, family reasons.”

Jennifer Martin, chair of the Shelby County chapter of Moms for Liberty, said the group did not officially endorse Blair in the 2022 race for the Collierville School Board seat, but she did receive financial contributions from Patricia Woodward, the treasurer of the local Moms for Liberty chapter, according to Newsweek.

The right-wing group endorsed more than 270 candidates nationwide for school board elections in 2022, notably in states like Florida, in an effort to overhaul education infrastructure across the country and restrict access to books, classroom materials and honest discussions of race, racism, LGBT+ people and gender and sexuality in the classroom.

The group’s success dwindled in 2023 elections however when the majority of the more than 130 candidates the group endorsed lost their seats.

During the 2022 elections, Blair promoted herself as a staunch conservative despite the Collierville School Board elections being non-partisan.

Keri Blair (Collierville Police Department TN)

“When I started it was ‘Oh, it’s too right. It’s too conservative.’ But as I talked to people and was out in the community—a lot of it was staying true to the things I started and set out from the community,” she told the Daily Memphian after winning the election.

Following her resignation, School Board Chairman Wright Cox expressed his thanks to Blair for her service to the community and her commitment to public education.

He did not mention the charges against her.

Her replacement will be selected by the Collierville Board of Mayor and Aldermen and will serve until the elections on 5 November.

Moms for Liberty co-founder, Tiffany Justice, previously said the group is looking to expand its efforts to elect school board candidates in 2024.

She said the group will use its political action committee to engage in school board races nationwide. It also will “start endorsing at the state board level and elected superintendents,” she said, suggesting school board elections will remain some of the most contentious political fights this year.

Moms for Liberty emerged from right-wing outrage during the Covid-19 pandemic as schools shifted to remote learning and implemented public health guidance like mask requirements.

The group, which has attracted support from Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and other Republican officials who have focused on culture war flashpoints, has since grown its membership to roughly 100,000 people in more than 250 chapters in 42 states.

Last year, the group was designated an “anti-government extremist” organisation by the Southern Poverty Law Center for allegedly harassing community members, advancing anti-LGBTQ+ misinformation and fighting to scrub diverse and inclusive material from lesson plans.

The group also helped facilitate efforts last year to encourage boycotts of Target for purportedly pushing pro-LGBTQ propaganda by selling “tuck-friendly” swimsuits for adults as part of their 2023 Pride Season collection, leading to the company taking a small hit in its share price between May and June. However, the company later rebounded with a 7.46 percent increase to end the year.

Moms for Liberty has also called teacher’s unions “terrorist organisations,” offered so-called bounties for reporting teachers who allegedly discuss “divisive topics” in schools, attacked The Trevor Project for supporting young LGBT+ people at risk of suicide, and has launched a barrage of book challenges.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in