Almost a week into the new school year at Oakland Unified School District, community members continue to occupy an elementary school that the district planned to close at the end of last school year.
It has been a tense couple of weeks at Parker Elementary School and after a physical confrontation with district-hired security guards followed by a contentious showdown between protestors and the school board, the people who now occupy the school seem intent on staying put until they get what they want.
“One of the issues is gentrification and charters taking over public schools,” said Steve Zelter of “Save Parker Elementary”
Zeltzer has been involved in the Parker Elementary School occupation and rallies since they started in May. He and others said that the demonstrations will continue until OUSD agrees to e-open parker.
“Absolutely, I think we can change and keep it open if there’s enough community and labor support,” Zeltzer said.
A week and a half ago, video showed Oakland Unified contract security guards trying to hold back protesters as they rushed the building.
One protester said he was illegally detained and injured by the guards and another told NBC Bay Area that she suffered a concussion.
At a rally last week, teachers, parents and others said they want the school board to be held accountable.
The group held a town hall Sunday, that was focused on getting feedback from the community and discussing efforts to keep Parker Elementary open. The meeting was closed to the media.
“It’s a working-class community and to shut it down, it means these kids have to walk miles to another school. It’s wrong,” Zeltzer said.
In a written statement Friday, Oakland Unified School District said among other things,that the people inside the school are “trespassing. They are not allowed to be there, and they’re not allowed to host events of any kind. Any event held on the parker campus is not authorized, sanctioned, condoned, or otherwise supported by the district.”
The district also said it continues to ask the demonstrators to leave.
“It really feels like we’re going backwards and not ahead,” said Oakland resident Linnie Moses.
Moses’ children went to Parker Elementary and two of them are now at UC Berkeley. She’s upset her sister, who also lives in the neighborhood, now has to drive her niece several miles to each morning and then commute to work in the opposite direction.
“Now she’s got to go far in, and she works at Kaiser in San Leandro, so she’s got a lot of commuting,” Moses said.
Organizers of the Parker Elementary School occupation said the closures are racist, targeting black and brown neighborhoods and they added that they’re working on filing a lawsuit to force the district to keep this school and others open.
Source: NBC Bay Area