Parents and teachers engaged in a scuffle with police in an attempt to storm the stage at an Oakland Unified School District board meeting Wednesday evening, protesting both the proliferation of charter schools and the consolidation of some district-run schools due to funding shortages.
Six people were arrested in the brouhaha, and law enforcement has been accused of using excessive force in securing the event after a series of recent meetings were either disrupted or shut down entirely by demonstrators.
What are the details?
Roughly 30 OUSD security and police officers were present to secure the perimeter of the school, KQED-TV reported, anticipating further demonstrations from the protestors who have vowed to continue shutting down meetings in the name of fighting against what they call the "charter school takeover." The group calls itself, "Oakland is Not For Sale."
Several activists posted video footage of the melee on social media, showing the mob pushing through the barriers toward police while law enforcement attempted to contain the situation — pulling bully clubs and pepper spray as the angry parents and teachers pressed forward.
@RepSwalwell Oakland PD arresting PARENTS at an OUSD School Board meeting. Excessive force. No one touched anyone!… https://t.co/ieUcv5v1rU— AliJ (@AliJ)1571886435.0
Please note: violent video. This is how OUSD teachers were treated at the SCHOOL BOARD MEETING tonight. Spread the… https://t.co/fhaTcFQNf6— MeliGene (@MeliGene)1571892300.0
According to KPIX-TV, "since the school voted to close Kaiser Elementary School on Sept. 11, demonstrators have disrupted three board meetings as well as a joint school board and Oakland City Council meeting on Monday."
According to protestors, they have no intention of stopping. Saru Jayarman, a parent who brought her two small children to the Wednesday meeting and was one of the protestors arrested, acknowledged to KTVU-TV, "Yes we were trying to disrupt the meeting. We're parents with little children who were with us, we're not trying to fight anyone, we're trying to be heard."
Another unnamed protestor addressed the board Wednesday night shortly before the barricades were pushed down, declaring, "We will continue to disrupt these meetings and there will be no more business as usual."
The teachers union issued a statement blaming the police and the district for the escalation of the situation. Oakland Education Association Vice President Chaz Garcia said, "Last night, OUSD police pushed, choked and clubbed peaceful elementary school parents and educators who were protesting school closures."
"We hold the OUSD Board of Directors and Superintendent Johnson-Trammell responsible for setting the stage for this violence by erecting barricades, and for the actions of their police force."
But district officials say they have no other choice but to consider their options given their dire financial situation. Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammell told KPIX, "We hope desperately that we're able to get more funding from the state but we have to have plans on what we know in terms of what we have funding for now."