Saturday, May 15, 2010

Labor Support for the Collinwood Students

Emergency Labor Call-in Campaign

Defend pro-labor Cleveland high school students attacked for protesting layoffs and school cutbacks

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

On May 13, at 10:30 AM, a small group of Collinwood High School students walked out to protest the layoffs of 800 teachers and other school workers. By 10:45 Cleveland police had arrived on the scene, most likely after being called by the principal. This video by Caleb Maupin, a supporter of the students, ( shows an African-American male being shoved against a police car and a vicious attack on a 19-year old African-American female and her 16-year old sister. The two young women were arrested; the 19-year old has been charged with obstruction of justice, resisting arrest and aggravated disorderly conduct. The 16-year old has been charged with assault on a police officer, resisting arrest, aggravated disorderly conduct and violating daytime curfew. Other students were also given citations for violating daytime curfew and were suspended from school for five days. Walkout organizer Seth Barlekamp and another student were brutally interrogated inside the school by police, who threatened to have Seth institutionalized. Seth’s mother was threatened with arrest if the protests continued. All of the students who participated in the walkout, with the exception of Seth, are African-American, as are the majority of students at Collinwood High and in the Cleveland Public School District.

The impending layoffs and closure of 16 schools will result in class sizes as high as 45 students in a room. The walkout was a courageous effort to on the part of the students build solidarity between students and members of the Cleveland Teachers Union and other school unions. The brutal assault was a deliberate attempt to intimidate students and crush the potential for a grass roots labor-student-community movement to defend public education and stop layoffs—in both the public and private sector. The proliferation of private, non-union “charter schools” makes such a movement all the more needed. We need to bail out the schools, not the banks. Labor must also protest what was clearly a racist attack on the African-American community of Cleveland. We cannot stand for this! Labor must stand behind those in the community who stand behind us—especially our youth!

Call the Fifth District Police station, 216-623-5618 & 216-623-6500 to demand all charges against the students be dropped and to protest the brutal treatment of the students. Call the Cleveland Board of Education, 216-574-8000 and Collinwood High School, 216-451-8782 to demand the suspensions be rescinded and that Seth Barlekamp not be threatened with expulsion.

A support demonstration took place Friday, May 14, at 2:30 PM outside the school received wide media coverage.

Further updates will follow. Please help build labor support for these courageous teenagers by spreading the word to your union sisters and brothers—let the anti-union, anti-youth forces in Cleveland know that labor is watching them. Please email if you want your name added to this appeal.

In Solidarity,

Martha Grevatt, Chair, Civil and Human Rights Committee, UAW Local 122*

Susan Schnur, Board member, Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 268*

Sharon Danann, American Federation of Government Employees, Local 2089*

John Catalinotto, member Professional Staff Congress, NYSUT, (Bronx Community College)*

Susan E. Davis, National Writers Union, UAW 1981*

Steve Gillis, Vice President, USW Local 8751, the Boston School Bus Drivers' Union

Bryan G. Pfeifer, Staff Organizer, Union of Part-Time Faculty (UPTF-AFT), Wayne State University, Detroit*

Joan Marquardt, Unemployed legal office support worker

Dan La Botz , National Writers Union, UAW Local 1981

Merrie M. Felder, Milwaukee, WI.

Gabriel Camacho, member of UNITE HERE Local 66L*

Sara Catalinotto, member, United Federation of Teachers Local 2, NYC*

Chuck Mohan, President Guyanese American Workers United

Carole A. Kronberg, Detroit

John Freeman

Brenda Stokely, Million Worker March Movement*

Jeffrey Segal, Louisville, KY

MichiganEmergency Committee Against War & Injustice

Michigan Moratorium NOW! Coalition to Stop Foreclosures, Evictions and UtilityShut-offs.

Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire.

Frank Hammer, Former President, UAW Local 909*

Joseph Balkis, Teamsters*

*for id purposes only

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