Beginning last Friday, some of the the parents, teachers, and students of Lakeview Elementary School have been occupying the campus to protest the school’s impending closure. They’ve pitched tents, begun gardening, and, today, teachers started holding the People’s School, a free summer school.
Lakeview, which sits on Grand across from the historic Grand Lake Theater, is one of five public elementary schools in Oakland slated for closure this year. Other schools being closed include Lazear (near Fruitvale), Marshall and Maxwell Park (both in East Oakland), and Santa Fe (in North Oakland).
Organizers say these schools are predominantly black and Latino, and that the closures are a part of a “national attack, denying working class, black, and brown students the right to a public education and destabilizing their communities.”
Children will be forced to make the journeys (without assistance from the school board) to attend schools further away from home. Their attendance will undoubtedly be affected as their working parents struggle to get them to school on time. In the meantime, they will be separated from local networks of friends, teachers, and other parents. The organizers further say that these closures will “demoralize the children, making them feel worthless and unwanted.”
Though police have given out notices on the campus warning demonstrators that they will be evicted, organizers say that the sit-in will go on indefinitely.
Joel Velasquez, a parent organizer, asks for help and support from the community. Velasquez says that Occupy Oakland has been helpful in providing much-need assistance, but participation from the wider community is needed and welcome. Needs include:
- 24-hour security to patrol the area and make sure parents, teachers, and children are safe (Velasquez emphasizes the need for non-aggressive people, preferably skilled in de-escalation tactics)
- legal observers
Please stop by Lakeview to offer your support, or to sign on to help them meet one of the needs listed above.
Don’t miss this opportunity to lend a voice and hand to a struggle that deeply affects Oakland’s underserved communities, who are already burdened by the weight of systemic racism and psychological violence.
Whether or not the school occupation continues, organizers are also planning to hold a rally in Oscar Grant Plaza this Saturday, June 23rd at noon to protest school closures.
(click to enlarge)
(click to enlarge)