Parents still occupying Oakland elementary school after confrontation with guards
OAKLAND, Calif. - A near three-month long occupation of a school in East Oakland saw violence on Thursday over an unsuccessful forced eviction.
A group of parents has been occupying Parker Elementary School since May when the district decided to shut the school down.
That prompted Oakland Unified School District officials to change the locks on Thursday, but some parents found a way to get back in.
The school district called security to help remove the parents from the building, but tensions escalated.
Parents held a press conference on Friday at the school where they demanded justice for how they were handled by security officers the previous day and a commitment to funding public schools.
Cell phone video obtained by KTVU shows school district security officers trying to remove the parents from Parker Elementary School.
Parents said they were attacked by the guards, and they need to be brought to justice.
Parent and school board candidate Max Orozco said he was physically assaulted, injured, cuffed and detained against his will.
"These things carry consequences, and those consequences have to be taken into account of these people who gave those instructions, and the people that gave orders to follow it as well as the people who assaulted me," said Orozco.
Parents and activists argue that the school closures are racist, and that since they've "liberated" Parker Elementary, they've been running summer programs, handing out food, holding voter registration drives and hosting community town halls to encourage community engagement.
"This is where we educate our entire community across the nation. This is where resources are supposed to go in," said parent and school board candidate Joel Velasquez.
The issue is public controlled public education.
"OUSD keeps saying closing schools, they're not closing schools, they're replacing them with charter schools," said Velasquez.
Echoed parent Valerie Bachelor, "We can't keep pushing our public education away and characterizing it and privatizing it. We gotta make sure out public education stays public," said parent Valerie Bachelor.
Parents say the cost of keeping the public schools open isn't an issue.
"The state of California has a $90 billion surplus right now. We're not in a deficit. We don't have a lack of resources," said Velasquez.
SEIU Local 1021, a service employees union, issued a statement in solidarity with the parents fighting to keep schools open.
In reference to the private security's treatment of the occupiers, union President Joseph Bryant said, "We are shocked to see these extreme tactics deployed against members of our community."
He added that closing schools puts students at-risk when they no longer have a neighborhood school they can safely bus or to walk to. They said none of the private security who removed community members from the school are members of their union.
The school district issued a statement that didn't mince words.
"The individuals at Parker have been and continue to trespass. We have directed them to leave from day one and have continued to do so on many other occasions."
Parents are still occupying the school site and intend on staying.
"We're here to serve our community by any means necessary," said parent Rochelle Jenkins.
The district said its biggest concern is for the safety of the children sleeping in the building with unlicensed child care.