OAKLAND: Parents and Teachers Clash with Police at School Board Meeting

Photo: Police strikes at protesters who crossed barricade at school board meeting

By Edith Flanagan

Recently published videos show the Oakland Police Department violently repressing protests against the Oakland Unified School District at La Escuelita Elementary last week, arresting a total of six protesters.

Oakland teachers and parents, led by a legalist coalition named Oakland is Not for Sale, were responding to the planned closure of several public schools and the opening of new charter schools. Due to confrontations at previous meetings, the school board had ordered barricades be set up against the masses in the lead up to the meeting.

Protests began after the Board voted to close Kaiser Elementary School on September 11. Before this most recent meeting, three board meetings as well as a joint school board and City Council meeting had been disrupted by protesters.

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Parents watch on as school board attempts to justify school closures.

Last Wednesday night, one parent, Saru Jayaraman, was set upon by four police officers who used “pain compliance” techniques and other physical restraints before dragging her out of the building. She then had to be taken to the hospital. Reports indicate that she is still using a knee immobilizer and crutches due to the injury caused by police.

The school district police chief Jeff Godown said at a news conference that there was no video of force being used against Jayaraman, and further stated that he believed that the force used against the parents was just to “keep them off the stage.” The police regularly spread such bald-faced lies, comfortable in their roles as the enforcers of bourgeois rule.

“Yes we were trying to disrupt the meeting,” Jayarman said. “We’re parents with little children who were with us, we’re not trying to fight anyone, we’re trying to be heard.”