photo (6)Elementary school students and teachers from New Highland Academy in Oakland marched to the local library Thursday … with a police escort. They used to take the six-block walk every third Thursday, but gun violence in the neighborhood halted the monthly outings.

The group marched wearing signs around their neck that said “Peace. Love. Books.” and chanting, “What do we want? Peace!”

Armed escorts from the Oakland Police Department kept watch.

New Highland Academy teacher Donald Carter said the trips to the library stopped after a shooting near the library last month, which his class heard as they were getting ready for the walk over.

“We heard a series of shots in the distance, toward the library,” Carter said. “We decided it would not be wise to continue. We were locked down – the entire school – for over an hour.”

Teacher Tracy Dordell recalled a previous library trip when she and her students stumbled across the aftermath of a shooting, one in which a former Academy student was killed.

“We could see the crime scene,” she said. “You could see the coroner’s van right there. And we sort of just looked at each other .. . and we were like, what do we do? How do we not let them see?”

Eight-year-old Jose Castillo said he understands why his class stopped going.

“There’s a lot of violence and there’s people dying,” he said.

The kids and teachers know  that the police escort Thursday was just a one-time event. Councilman Larry Reid walking with the march said that the police department simply doesn’t have the manpower.

Tracy Dordell said she hopes parents will step forward.

“We want to have the community reclaim itself and respect itself,” she said. “We want them…to be safe and be able to access all of these things that the community is offering.”

Oakland Students March to Protest Gun Violence 22 February,2013Caitlin Esch

  • End the US Wars of Occupation

    Maybe the US government should stop the “gun violence” against third worlders unfortunate enough to be born on oil fields or other ‘stragetic’ resources. Maybe without an example of an extremely violent government, some of America’s most violent citizens would take a clue.

    • Maybe you need to read a book on parenting

  • John Mullins

    Isn’t that ADORABLE? All those inner-city youths born to single parents out and protesting the very things their parents and older siblings do! NEATO!

    • Oh right, insulting non-violent protest is the way to go! I’m sure you have it all figured out! Your sarcasm makes the community safer and stops cycles of violence! Good job!!!1111!!!!

  • Bill Okama

    Yes, that is adorable. What makes it even more special is that taxpayer dollars were used to pay for armed Police escorts in broad daylight. I’m sure those signs that the “urban youths” are carrying will surely stop all criminal behavior, and make all those evil, nasty criminals move away from Oakland, or turn themselves in immediately.

    • Seriously? You don’t support community empowerment or education? What else should our tax dollars go towards if not protecting and empowering the youth? There needs to be a police escort in “broad daylight” because our armed forces are too busy overseas to protect us from “those evil, nasty criminals” at home. I’m sure if you didn’t feel safe walking to the library, you wouldn’t mind if “taxpayer dollars” were used to protect your indifferent ass. You have a serious lack of compassion for your fellow man.

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