Protests Get Physical at Oakland School Board Meeting

Protests at a school board meeting in Oakland quickly escalated Wednesday evening, even becoming physical at times as officials discussed possible school closures.

A coalition dubbed Oakland is Not For Sale, which includes teachers, staff, parents and students, disrupted the meeting of the Oakland Unified School District board. The protesters chanted and at times screamed at school board members.

Police officers used batons and barriers to hold back the protesters. Six people were arrested and released late Wednesday night.

The district is planning to move forward with its plan to close a number of its public schools. The protesters complain those campuses will be replaced by charter schools.

The district released the following statement about the disruption late Wednesday night:

"Oakland Unified School District and the Board of Education respect and support the public's right to voice their concerns through peaceful protest. The Board still must be able to conduct its business. Every contract, every grant, almost all facilities issues, agreements with the city and other local partners, important policy issues, teacher permits and credentials, and so many more important issues go to the Board in order to take effect.

"This is the third Board meeting in a row that protesters have disrupted (fourth, if you count the joint city council-school board meeting that was disrupted by the protesters on Monday, October 21). When the protesters jumped over and pushed over the barriers, the safety of the Board Directors and staff could no longer be guaranteed and the Board moved the meeting upstairs pursuant to the Brown Act. Media was allowed upstairs and public comment was permitted downstairs once the mic (that the protesters had moved and damaged) was fixed and moved to the right location.

"Moving forward, the District implores the protesters to keep their actions peaceful and to allow the Directors to conduct the work they need to do for the benefit of all Oakland students."

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