Oakland high schoolers walk out over police killings

At least four Oakland high schools staged a walkout over police killings of unarmed black men and rallied at the Fruitvale BART station Monday afternoon, organizers said.

Students at Oakland High School at 1023 MacArthur Blvd. walked out between 1 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. and students at Oakland Technical High School walked out at 2:30 p.m., according to Yvette Felarca, an organizer with the group By Any Means Necessary.

Francisco Martinez, 17, an 11th-grader at Oakland High said he participated in today’s walkout and as of about 4 p.m. was rallying at Fruitvale station, the place where Oscar Grant III was shot by a BART police officer in 2009.

He said the Oakland High group was joined by students from Oakland Tech, Skyline High School at 12250 Skyline Blvd. and MetWest High School at 314 E. 10th St. Most of the students at Oakland High walked out with him, Martinez said.

Martinez said teachers said that after they left few students were still on campus, despite the objections of school staff:

“We’re here to fight for our rights and do what we have to do. … We’re tired of police murders for no reason and targeting African American and black people for no reason.”

The protests are Oakland’s latest over the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown by a Ferguson, Missouri, police officer in August and the chokehold death of Eric Garner by a New York City police officer. The high-profile cases have sparked nationwide protests in the last month after grand juries declined to indict officers in either case.

The students are rallying “to fight for justice for Michael Brown and Eric Garner and to jail the killer cops and to demand accountability and end the Jim Crow justice system,” Felarca said:

“They’re fighting for more educational opportunities, and to end the segregation in the schools, and to build a new civil rights youth-led movement.”

Martinez had his own run-in with authority in May when he was knocked from his wheelchair and beaten by a school security guard who is now facing felony charges for the assault:

“We’re all fighting against police brutality, not only for Michael Brown, but for myself too. … School should be a safe space where we can learn and not be brutalized by security.”

A neighbor in the Temescal neighborhood said she saw about 100 students walking in pairs down the sidewalk on 40th Street and chanting shortly after Oakland Tech’s walkout. The Fruitvale and MacArthur BART stations were briefly closed this afternoon because of the protests, BART officials said.