Oakland School Board Meeting Protesters to Sue District for Excessive Force by Police

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Six protesters were arrested during an Oakland Unified School District Board of Education meeting on Wednesday evening, the latest in a series of demonstrations against school closures and the proliferation of charter schools.

School district officials said it was the third board meeting in a row disrupted by the protesters, who have sought to install an alternative "community board" in place of the Board of Education.

Protesters also disrupted a joint school board and Oakland City Council meeting on Monday.

The previous protests did not lead to tense clashes with police as they did on Wednesday. Police used batons to keep the protesters from approaching the dais.

Video from the incident showed a tense and chaotic scene as protesters shouted at police and officers pushed back on the crowd and made arrests.

"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," school district spokesperson John Sasaki said in a statement.

Steve Neat, who is part of the protest group, said that none of the previous protests have been violent or endangered the safety of the school board.

"The whole time the police were beating people and dragging them to the ground, the school board was no longer even in the room," Neat said. "The police were only protecting an empty stage."

The school board voted this year to close Kaiser Elementary School and Roots International Academy and move the students to other schools. The school board is considering closing as many as 24 schools over the next five years.

The protesters have argued that these closures are unnecessary and have raised questions about the large number of charter schools in the district. Twenty-seven percent of district students attend 45 charter schools, the highest proportion of any large district in the state.

The school district planned to have a news conference about the incident later on Thursday.

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