Protestors say they plan to sue Oakland Unified Schools over Parker Elementary clash

Parents, teachers, and community members held a rally outside La Escuelita school in Oakland Wednesday before the school board meeting.

One parent announced that they plan to file a lawsuit against the district following a clash between protestors and security guards at Parker Elementary School last Thursday.

The parents said they are angry about the use of force by a security firm contracted by the Oakland Unified School District. 

Security guards who had been assigned to lock the Parker Elementary School building last Thursday ended up in a physical clash with parents and protestors who were trying to re-enter Parker Elementary school. The parents had been occupying the school for months, trying to stop it from being permanently closed.

"OUSD you are put on notice, you are put on notice that will not stand," said Sanyika Bryant, Lead Organizer of the Black Organizing Project. "The community will continue to fight," 

Max Orozco, a parent, says he was beaten and handcuffed by the guards. He says the parents now plan to file a lawsuit against OUSD.

"We are going to pursue it. We are suing the district. We are going to get to the bottom of this," said Orozco.

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"I was appalled by what I saw last week at Parker Elementary, and I am joining others here today in connecting what happened last week at Parker to a creeping and now clear pattern of intimidation and political repression against educators and community members who protest," said Nate Landry, a parent of an OUSD fourth grade student.

Union members with the teachers' Oakland Education Association said two teachers who had been supporting protestors at Parker Elementary had their employment terminated. They said they asked the district to explain the reason for being let go, but were told the district is not required to provide an explanation.

"It's going to take all of us to fight back and yes it's very important to fight off any attempt to pick off any activists in this movement one by one," said Craig Gordon, an OUSD retiree who was working as a substitute teacher and received the notice of termination.

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Inside at the board meeting, a long line of people waited to speak out. Those speaking in person alternated with others who participated virtually online, demanding answers as to who authorized the security guards to clash with protestors.

"I'm going to fight to make sure that that firm is never contracted again within this district," said Mike Hutchinson, an OUSD Board Director.

"The incident is officially under review, however, the district does not condone violence by anyone. And we continue to work hard to prevent any escalation with trespassers," said Supt. Kyla Johnson-Trammell, "We apologize to our Parker neighbors for any disruption caused by Thursday's events."

The school district says they need to close 11 schools including Parker Elementary because enrollment numbers were too low.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this article misidentified Parker Elementary School in the headline. A correction has been made. We regret the error.