SF Chronicle, Tuesday, July 3, 2012
Oakland school police officers cleared out a dozen protesters early Tuesday who were camping in a closed elementary school.
The group of parents and activists had been sleeping at Lakeview Elementary School at 746 Grand Ave. since June 15 to protest the district’s decision to close the school.
District police officers entered the school across from the Grand Lake Theater about 4 a.m. and told the activists they would be arrested if they did not leave, said Troy Flint, a school district spokesman. All but two protesters packed up their belongings and departed.
The remaining two asked to be arrested, Flint said. They were cited and released.
Citing budget problems and declining enrollment, the school board voted in October to close five elementary schools in Oakland: Lakeview, Santa Fe, Marshall, Maxwell Park and Lazear. Parents have been fighting to save the schools ever since.
Flint said school officials had been unable to reason with the protesters.
“We didn’t act immediately because we didn’t want it to turn into a law enforcement event,” he said. “We do have to get prepared for the next school year, and there are plans for that facility.”
Flint said the school will house the district’s family services unit.
Jack Gerson, a retired Oakland teacher who was involved with the protest, said the group would continue to fight the proposed closure. Closing schools will hurt Oakland students, Gerson said.
Activists had held group discussions on their vision of the school’s future, Gerson said.
“We’re going to continue across the street for at least the next week,” he said. “We think (the community) stands for what is needed – not closing down schools.”