Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Community outraged over teen arrests at Collinwood

Note: we plan to send a correction making it clear that we did not start the protest, but merely went to support it. But aside from this factual error this articles does a good job of not demonizing FIST and is the first media to actually note we are part of national organization.

By James W. Wade III, Call & Post
May 19, 2010, 9:53AM

CLEVELAND – Many are outraged at how Cleveland Police handled the arrest of a 16-year-old girl and a 19-year-old woman at a protest at Collinwood High School over the layoffs in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District. Collinwood students are screaming for justice saying they were “brutalized” after walking out of school in a form of protest.

Police were called to the high school at 11:30 a.m. and saw two women protesting the layoffs. Police and two students began to argue when police tried to take them into custody for not being in school. The argument turned physical as two police officers tried to put the girls into a police cruiser. There was a struggle and two more officers joined in handcuffing the girls and placing them in the patrol car.

Police charged Destiny Bruno, 19, with obstruction of justice, resisting arrest and aggravated disorderly conduct. A 16-year-old girl was charged with assault on a police officer, resisting arrest and 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.

“We know for sure that one of the girls was a student at Collinwood, we’re not sure the other one went there,” Police Sgt. Sammy Morris said. “They were outside with the protesters when they should have been in school.”

School officials said 20 students participated in the protest. Officials warned them that if they did not go back inside the building they would be suspended. Six refused and were suspended, officials said.

The group that organized the protest, Cleveland FIST, said in an e-mail that they went to support “a student walk-out at Collinwood High School, which was called by the students to protest the massive school closings.” Fight Imperialism–Stand Together (FIST) is a national group of young activists committed to fighting racism, sexism, oppression of lesbian, gay, bi and trans people, and exploitation of the working class, all of which result from imperialism and capitalism.

The video of the arrest is all over the Internet and shows police using force on the women. The community has been outraged over the treatment. A rally is being planned as a form of demonstration against the brutality used by the police.

The Cleveland school district will close 16 buildings in June and plans to lay off more than 650 teachers and support personnel. The cuts will help avert a $53 million deficit next school year.

In a written statement on the FIST website it stated “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 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 labor-student-community solidarity and was a racist attack on the African-American community of Cleveland. We cannot stand for this.”

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