Parker Elementary activists demand investigation after clash with OUSD security

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Community organizers occupying Parkland Elementary School in East Oakland demanded answers from the school district on Friday, a day after district security forces attempted to remove them from the premises in what witnesses described as a violent altercation.

Among those involved in Thursday night’s incident was Max Orozco, an Oakland parent-organizer and school board candidate. He said security officers from the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) handcuffed and detained him at the scene of what he called “an attack.”

Parker Liberation member and Oakland School Board candidate Max Orozco, speaking at a press conference on Friday, described being violently detained by OUSD security officers Thursday night during a confrontation at school. (Annelise Finney/KQED)

According to eyewitnesses, he was held inside for nearly two hours as nearly 60 people gathered outside to demand his release.

Parker is among 11 schools in the city that the district chose in February to permanently close or merge due to budget concerns. The school was officially closed on May 25.

But a group of parents and students vehemently opposed to the closure took over the building in early June. Since then, members of “Parker Liberation,” as the group calls itself, have lived inside the building and run a community-run summer school — part of an effort that organizers say , echoes the work of the Black Panther Party in the 1960s and 1970s.

Several people involved in the incident said they responded to a social media post alerting the community that district security guards were forcefully preventing people from entering the building.

After officers finally reopened the building, “staff were just violent with community members, just pushing and punching,” said community organizer Pecolia Manigo. “There were people hurt, physically beaten today, and it wasn’t OK.”

“I’m really proud of our community for a quick response – that people came and saw and witnessed the violence with which these OUSD event workers were performing…it was unnecessary,” she added. . “And hopefully we can have a better conversation about our schools without the police and make sure that anyone who represents and/or is an employee of our district is not being violent towards members of our community.”

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