Parents confront Mayor Schaaf at Oakland town hall meeting
OAKLAND (KPIX) - The first of three town hall meetings hosted by Mayor Libby Schaaf got underway Tuesday night. People raised concerns like affordable housing, illegal dumping, and violence but it was the fate of Parker Elementary School that lead to the most heated exchange.
"I just said it. What are you going to do to hold Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) accountable for assaulting parents and community. What do you mean you don't remember that simple question? That's absurd!" Joel Velasquez shouted at the Mayor.
Velasquez is also running for an OUSD board seat in District 6. The Oakland resident was demanding Mayor Schaaf answer questions about and incident at Parker Elementary School on Thursday where protestors of the school's closure clashed with OUSD security guards as the protestors were trying to occupy the school.
"I know our police department has not been involved, and so my understanding is this will take its course through the criminal justice system," Mayor Schaaf responded, then continued on saying, "I apologize that this is not something that I've been asked to be involved with."
"I'm asking you now!" Velasquez shouted at her.
"I hear that, I will look into it," the mayor said.
While Schaaf did not specifically address how the city might get involved with the Parker Elementary situation, she did address a number of other topics of concern from residents including homelessness and affordable housing, illegal dumping, violence, and generators being used for marijuana cultivation.
"It's important for us to see her face-to-face and voice our opinions," said Alistair Monroe. He lives at the Oakland Cannery and was concerned about pollution coming from the generators. The mayor told him she was not aware the generators were still being used and would make sure there is appropriate enforcement to get them removed.
There were not many residents who came to the forum, with city employees outnumbering them significantly.
"I believe it's very important for residents to be involved and knowledgeable about what's going on in their city," said lifelong Oakland resident Gloria Crowell.
When asked why she felt these town halls were important, Schaaf responded, "Making sure people are heard, they get their questions answered, and I'm hoping to inspire people to also get involved."
There are two more town hall meetings scheduled for this week. The first will be at Colby Park, Wednesday at 6 pm and the second at San Antonio Park, on Thursday at 6pm.
Wednesday afternoon is the first OUSD board meeting since the clash with security guards at Parker Elementary School. A number of parents said they will be attending to demand answers.