OAKLAND — Occupation of Oakland’s Parker Elementary School overheated Thursday afternoon with conflict between community members and school district security staff, organizers said Friday.
Oakland Unified School District officials said staff went early in the day Thursday to the school, located at 7929 Ney Ave., and found no one inside. But, occupation organizers dispute that.
Parents, students and other community members have occupied the school since the end of the 2021-22 school year following the district’s decision to close it as part of a district-wide closure, merger and consolidation plan.
Organizers argue the district’s plan is racist. School district data show that in the case of Parker Elementary School, 90 percent of school children were either Black or Hispanic students during the most recent school year.
“OUSD staff went to Parker on Thursday and found all the people who had been inside the building had left the premises,” school district officials said in a statement. “So, staff changed the locks and set the alarm. Someone picked, cut, or otherwise broke through a lock to get back inside the building. They were removed. But unfortunately, individuals forced their way back into the building.”
Nate Landry, a parent of a district fourth grader, said community members were inside the building after 4 p.m. Thursday. A little after 4:30 p.m., they heard of someone being physically assaulted, said Landry, who, with his wife, has joined the opposition to the school district’s plans.
He said that security told people they would be subject to arrest if they did not leave. Security officers pushed everybody out and did a poor job of securing the building, Landry said.
By 6 p.m., community members including at least one school board candidate and an elected official were outside. By about 6:30 p.m., when Oakland City Councilmember Carroll Fife arrived, a door had been breached and a lot of pushing and shoving was occurring from both sides, Fife said.
People were trying to get in and security officers were trying to keep people out, Fife said.
Someone called police at 6:09 p.m. regarding an assault at the school. Officers arrived and located one victim, police said.
In the confrontation, one person suffered a concussion. In all, three people went to the hospital, Landry said. Police detained one person and took a statement from them, police said.
Fife said the level of force used by security was “over the top.”
“No one should be hurt,” Fife said. “This is a place of education for little children.”
Since May 25, parents, teachers, students and community members have occupied the school 24 hours a day, seven days a week, organizers said. They renamed it Parker Community School.
Through Thursday, school-age children have participated in a summer program there, food has been given away, voter registration drives held, and among other activities, town halls held.
But what happened yesterday is “beyond the pale,” Landry said.
He described security as “extremely aggressive.”
Security officers also detained a parent and held him against his will for over an hour, Landry said.
By about 7:45 p.m., police and security had left the building and community members re-established control of it.
Parents said they will continue to find ways to occupy Parker Elementary.
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