Parents and Teachers, “Pushed, Choked, Clubbed,” and Arrested, Said OEA

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Screenshot of Facebook video showing Oakland Unified School District police arrest four parents and two teachers Wednesday Oct. 23 at school board meeting as they protest the board’s decision to close two dozen schools.

A crowd of parents, students and teachers chanted “Oakland in not for Sale” as six parents and teachers were arrested Wednesday Oct. 23 at the Oakland school board meeting protesting the closing of Oakland schools.

Several of the protesters were knocked down and had their arms twisted behind their backs. One of the protesters, Saru Jayaraman, was injured and taken to a hospital to X-ray her knee. She said the police joked that there was nothing wrong with her, until the doctor arrived, noted the seriousness of the injuries and told them to leave the room.  She is now in a cast.

In preparation for expected protests at the board meeting, the district had set up a metal railing between the board dais and the public and stationing about a dozen officers between the railing and where the board was seated.

When parents jumped the railing in civil disobedience, police responded by chaotically, wrestling them to the ground, twisting arms and handcuffing them.

The arrestees were told they would be taken to Santa Rita jail. However, they were taken to the district’s police station at Cole Elementary, cited and released. District spokesperson John Sasaki directed the police actions, according to one of the arrestees.

In a statement issued Wednesday night, district Sasaki said “This is the third board meeting in a row that protestors have disrupted (the fourth, if you count the joint city council-school board meeting that was disrupted by the protesters on Monday, Oct. 21.

“When the protesters jumped over and pushed over the barriers, the safety of the board directors and staff could no longer be guaranteed and the board moved the meeting upstairs pursuant to the Brown Act.”

In a statement released the day after the incident, the Oakland Education Association (OEA) said that OUSD police “pushed, choked and clubbed peaceful elementary school educators who were protesting school closures.” The press release goes on to blame the OUSD Board of Directors and Superintendent Johnson-Trammell for being “responsible for setting the stage for this violence by erecting barricades, and for the actions of their police force.”

The continuing protests are growing out of the school district administration and board to close schools in accord with the demands of the state and its agents at the Alameda County Office of Education and the non-elected Fiscal Crisis Management and Assistance Team (FCMAT).

Last school year, the district closed Roots Academy in East Oakland, sending a large number of students to Oakland SOL, which will close at the end of this school year. The district also recently decided to close Kaiser Elementary School – a high performing multiracial school in the Oakland hills – sparking a wave of parent organizing to oppose all school closures.

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