This post has been updated
A sit-in at Oakland’s Lakeview Elementary School ended early this morning as police from the Oakland School Police force entered the school building, making two arrests.
The dispersal was calm by all accounts, although protesters say that officers threatened to use chemical weapons to disperse the crowd, which included young children.
Officers from the Oakland School Police force, the Oakland Housing Authority Police force, Oakland Police Department, and California Highway Patrol were deployed to end the protest, according to a statement from OUSD Superintendent Tony Smith.
“There were children there, parents and teachers and a few occupiers,” said Lola, an organizer with Occupy Oakland who was supporting the sit-in on 4am security duty when police arrived.
There were 20-25 sit-in participants present when police arrived, according to Lola and another Occupy Oakland participant who was on the scene, Alyssa Eisenberg. “There were at least 15 police cars when I drove up,” Eisenberg said.
“The officers were saying, we’ve given you notices now we’re going to give you 15 minutes to leave. Then they gave an official dispersal order and they said, ‘If you do not disperse we’ll use chemical agents against you,’” Lola recounts.
Oakland parents, teachers, elementary school-aged children and supporters had been demonstrating at the school for 17 days. The school is one of five marked for closure by the Oakland School Board, a move that parents and teachers opposed.
The demonstration consisted of a free day camp for children called the People’s School for Public Education, a community garden, and a 24-hour sit-in involving half a dozen tents on the school property.
As protesters left the school, “it was very calm,” Lola said. “All the people that were there left willingly except two,” a parent organizer and an alum of the school who sat in a classroom rather than leave when police arrived. The two were cited for trespassing and released.
Police then erected a new fence outside the public school, and demonstrators went to a park across the street with the goal of continuing to teach free classes to children.
“Officers wouldn’t let [National Lawyers Guild] legal observers or journalists into the building,” said Lola, describing these observers standing on concrete structures outside the gates of the school in order to see what happened.
Organizers have planned a rally in protest of the raid and the ongoing school closures. They plan to meet today at 5pm outside of Lakeview Elementary.
“People who were occupying said this isn’t the end, they have more direct action civil disobedience plans,” Lola said.