Virginia School Board Member’s Jan. 6 Arrest Fractures Community

There are calls for Miles Adkins to resign. But some in Frederick County, Virginia, think the accused insurrectionist should stick to his guns.Published Apr. 01, 2024 4:17AM EDT Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast / Samuel Corum / GettySitting at the head of the Shenandoah Valley, Winchester, Virginia, is a city steeped in the history of the Civil

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There are calls for Miles Adkins to resign. But some in Frederick County, Virginia, think the accused insurrectionist should stick to his guns.

Pilar Melendez

Miles Adkins

Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast / Samuel Corum / Getty

Sitting at the head of the Shenandoah Valley, Winchester, Virginia, is a city steeped in the history of the Civil War, known as the “shuttlecock of the Confederacy” because it changed hands so many times.

There is a new battle brewing there now: a bitter debate over whether a school board member charged for allegedly taking part in the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol, among other infractions, should resign his seat.

At the center of this modern maelstrom is Miles Adkins, who was elected to the Frederick County board as an independent in 2021. Some residents see Adkins as a hard-working American patriot; others angrily denounce him and call for his ouster.

While Adkins has been a controversial figure since he took office, things really came to a head after he was arrested in late February for allegedly breaching the Capitol three years ago and swilling Coors Light and Fireball during the riot. At the March 19 meeting of the board, Marine Corps veteran Robert Patton stepped up to the podium and demanded Adkins step down.

“I feel that he has disgraced himself, his family, the citizens of Frederick County, and the country,” Patton said. “You can no longer be an effective leader of the school board when you display poor judgment and a lack of honor and integrity.”

Another speaker took Adkins’ side, urging him not to give in to “these Karens,” while another called him a “patriot” and told him not to resign.

“I don’t need to be here—I am a veteran,” Patton fumed in response, storming out of the meeting while yelling at his neighbor for calling the deadly insurrection a “peaceful protest.”

There was a familiar cadence to the meeting. Locals say that each time Adkins has been accused of stepping over a line—including two alcohol-related arrests and a controversial doctored image of board members with devil horns and Hitler mustaches—the same battle lines are drawn.

“I think to some he will be a folk hero,” fellow board member Ellen White told The Daily Beast. “To others, he has this problematic pattern, and he needs to go.”

Each time, Adkins has the same response: He will not voluntarily leave the school board before his term expires in 2025.

“If you ask me if I’m going to resign, come get me,” he said at the end of the fiery March 19 meeting. “You’re going to need a wrecking ball to get me out of here.”

Miles Adkins inside the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2src21

Miles Adkins inside the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021

Department of Justice

To hear Adkins tell it, he is “not a politician and never pretended to be a politician.” He fancies himself someone who “fixes things,” starting when he joined the Marine Corps after high school in Ohio. When he left the service in 2008, he worked in aviation and then became a contractor, a job that took him all over the East Coast.

In 2014, Adkins was in Florida when he was arrested for leaving the scene after hitting the back of another car on a highway. He pleaded no contest for the accident that caused no injuries and later told The Winchester Star he “straightened things out” and turned his life around.

When he ran for school board in 2021, the arrest and some vile, conspiracy-minded social media posts resurfaced.

“I can’t help but laugh when y’all elect a guy, TWICE, name[d] [Barack] Hussein Obama, and get mad when he supports Muslims,” said a 2015 post that Adkins shared on Facebook. In 2018, he shared a post that David Hogg, a survivor of the Parkland massacre, was a liar. He defended that post to the Star but later apologized for some of his online comments in a Northern Virginia Daily interview.

During his campaign to represent the Shawnee District, his platform was against programs that might support critical race theory for the district of 14,000 students—even though critical race theory is not taught to children at that level. He defeated two opponents to win the seat with 45 percent of the vote.

Julie Coffelt, who has a son in middle school, told The Daily Beast she was an early supporter of Adkins, especially since she was worried about possible pandemic mask mandates in school.

“He is doing what he needs to be doing for the kids, that’s the whole reason he is on the board,” she said.

White, his fellow board member, said that while Adkins has “always been a pleasure to work with, despite his personal problems,” she believes he should resign to “focus on himself.”

She said she wasn’t too offended by the edited image that denigrated her and three other board members—the preview frame for a video of a school board meeting about a possible mask mandate that was created by parent Christie Scarborough.

“I think that Miles doesn’t put a lot of forethought into things, and that moment showed it,” White said. “While I wasn’t particularly offended, it is offensive to people of other communities. It was a political shot.”

Adkins told The Daily Beast that when he posted the video, Scarborough had not yet inserted the doctored image—but he didn’t take it down after it was updated and drew complaints because “people still have a right to see what’s up.”

The unflattering headlines continued with an April 2022 charge of public intoxication in Prince William County that resulted in him paying a $25 fine. He told The Daily Beast that the charge stemmed from a misunderstanding when he tried to call an Uber after a night out watching live music. In June 2023, Adkins was arrested for driving under the influence in another county; he later pleaded guilty to reckless driving.

At the end of the day, we have an elected leader who is making poor decisions.

“Miles is a good friend, but Miles doesn’t do himself any favors,” John Braithwaite, a parent who believes Adkins has done a “terrific job,” told The Daily Beast. “I believe you have to divide what they do on their personal time and what they do when they are on the clock. I think everyone is pleased with the job he has done.”

“But the alcohol is an issue. It does pain me to say it,” he added. “That said, the dude’s been really beneficial to have as an advocate for children. I never felt, unlike other board members, that he was trying to make things political.”

Jodi Yeggy, who has two school-age children, told The Daily Beast that her complaint about Adkins isn’t political. “This is about right and wrong,” she said. “Sometimes we want to make it into a political fight, but at the end of the day, we have an elected leader who is making poor decisions.”

Scarborough, however, believes politics is behind the move to push out Adkins. “Right now, you have the Republican, Conservative, and Libertarian sides that are all in support of Miles. Then you have the Democrat, Liberal… side that considers him an insurrectionist and that he should resign or be in jail,” she said.

“You can guess which ones are the Karens.”

Prosecutors say this photo shows Miles Adkins helping a rioter enter through a broken window next to the Senate Wing door at the Capitol on Ja. 6, 2src21.

Prosecutors say this photo shows Miles Adkins helping a rioter enter through a broken window next to the Senate Wing door at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

Department of Justice

Adkins’ arrest last month for allegedly participating in the Capitol riots wasn’t a complete surprise. The online sleuthing group called the Sedition Hunters had identified him more than a year earlier, which led him to issue a statement in the local newspaper.

“At every turn, my political opponents have lobbed personal attack after personal attack at me—and every single one of those attacks have been motivated by their anger at the way I have voted,” the statement said. “This most recent attack has absolutely nothing to do with January 6th, and like the previous attacks, it has everything to do with trying to silence and intimidate me. Well, I have news for the smear merchants—these attacks will not work.”

The federal complaint says Adkins—wearing a black baseball cap emblazoned with the word “Chuck” and a backpack with two American flags—admitted he walked into the Capitol with a large group after watching former President Donald Trump’s speech.

Prosecutors say Adkins said there were no barriers when he arrived, but he did see people scuffling with police and heard what he believed were flash-bang detonations. He said “he had traveled to Washington, D.C., a few times prior to January 6, 2021, to act as an escort for persons associated with the Oath Keepers,” the complaint says.

“Adkins said that he communicated with an Oath Keeper on January 6, 2021, through the Signal cellular phone application,” the complaint says. Video and photos from inside the Capitol show Adkins walking around holding a “large, canned beverage” and then chanting, “Let’s go get a beer!” as he left.

He declined to comment on the “ongoing investigation” into his alleged role in the Capitol riots, telling The Daily Beast he didn’t want to put himself in a “weird situation or whatever” before insisting that “it’s a two-tiered justice system.”

I didn’t get elected to make friends.

The latest allegations against Adkins do not sit well with Yeggy, who said, “It’s pretty frustrating to have someone who is an elected official and a leader in our school board having this repeating, concerning behavior… He needs to go.”

Adkins’ supporters say he should not be punished for actions before he was elected.

“On January 6th, Mr. Adkins was not a school board member,” one resident said at the podium during the March 19 meeting to applause. “He’s just a private individual thinking the same thing that 133 million other Americans thought.”

Scarborough also spoke in Adkins’ defense, saying that his detractors can “go the legal route” if they want to drive him out. “And by the way,” she added, “When you’re done, gimme a call. Let’s go have a beer.”

The legal route is not simple. Under Virginia law, 500 registered voters in the district would need to sign a petition asking for a circuit court to remove Adkins from office. A judge could then remove him for “neglect of a clear, ministerial duty of the office, misuse of the office, or incompetence in the performance of the duties of the office,” and some criminal convictions.

In the absence of that, his critics are left with only one option: trying to shame him into going. So far, it’s not working.

“I got elected to do a job,” Adkins told The Daily Beast. “I didn’t get elected to make friends.”

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