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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Bronx Activists Arrested at DOE Protest

Leaders from Sistas & Brothas United, the youth organizing arm of the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition, were among those arrested Monday night during a protest against the Department of Education's controversial plans to close 25 public schools across the city.

Sistas & Brothas United helped organize the press conference and rally, outside of DOE headquarters on Chambers Street in downtown Manhattan. Director Maria Fernandez and four other leaders from the group were among those arrested for making a human chain to block the sidewalk outside the DOE's building, in what Fernandez described as an act of "civil disobedience."

"You shut our schools down, we shut your streets down," Fernandez said. "It was 23 of us lined up on Chambers Street. We linked arms, and we had 300 students, parents and allies chanting and cheering us on."

NYPD officers read them their rights, she said, then brought the group to a nearby police precinct for about an hour. Also arrested were City Council Members Jumaane Williams and Charles Barron, of Brooklyn. Fernandez said she received a citation to appear in court in April.

The DOE's Panel for Educational Policy voted last night to shut down 10 schools for poor performance, including four in the Bronx: School for Community Research and Learning, Urban Assembly Academy for History and Citizenship for Young Men, New Day Academy and Monroe Academy for Business/Law High School.

The panel will hold another hearing tomorrow to decide the fates of another batch of schools, including the Bronx's John F. Kennedy High School, Christopher Columbus High School, Global Enterprise High School, P.S.102 and Performance Conservatory High School.


  1. A few questions you all are running away from for some reason:

    1) Why did you delete so many comments today that had nothing to do with personal attacks?

    2) Why have you left up racist comments, most recently in the thread about the pharmacy robbery, and earlier last year when a commenter called white people Gringos?

    3) Is this Ms. Evelly paid or a free intern?

    4) What are you doing with the money you raise? Is it to pay salaries? If so, why was none of it used to pay James?

    5) Can we get a list of accepted phrases and illicit epithets? Is there some style guide at this blog site? Are there the "Seven words you can't write in blog comments?"

    6) What is your journalistic and philosophical stance, in general, on censorship?

    Let it be noted that there is nothing akin to a personal attack in this comment. There should be no reason to take it down.

    Instead of paying people to scan, censor, and delete comments, maybe you can furnish answers to some of these questions. Thanks.

  2. Also, who is allowed to delete comments? Does it have to come from the top and Mr. Moss? Or is Ms. Evelly allowed to make judgment calls about whether to delete and censor a comment? Is Mr. Kratz allowed to delete a comment?

    How did Ms. Evelly feel about being told that she has "caught "Boobie" Downer's dumb, dumber, dumbest disease." ?

    Shouldn't the powers that be have protected her from such a personal attack? What standard did it not meet?

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. From Anon @7:26 -- "Why should ordinary New York citizens who work or have some type of business on Chambers Street lose their right to walk down a public sidewalk because youth in the North West Bronx have some disagreement with the Department of Education?"

    Yeah-- I had the same thought about citizens of Cairo. What a major inconvenience those protests are for ordinary citizens.

    Or when John Lewis (now Congressman Lewis) had the nerve to lead a march across Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. There were lots of ordinary citizens of Selma who were hugely inconvenienced.

    And can we once and for all stop lionizing that rabble that threw all that good tea into Boston Harbor in 1773?! Why should people have lost their right to buy, sell and drink tea because a few people had a disagreement with the King of England.

  5. One problem with Anonymous postings is it is really hard to know how many different people are making comments. It would be much better to post under some moniker, say, "Frequent Commenter" so we all know how many of these posts are yours.

    Anyway -- no, I am not equating this particular act of civil disobedience with any of the others I mentioned. My point is that civil disobedience has a long and effective tradition in US and world history. The original Anon (the same I am responding to now?) talked about better and more productive means of protest and people losing rights to walk down streets. I say -- if the cause is just then temporary and minor inconveniences are justified. I suspect you do not think the cause is just in this instance (getting to the Anon@9:54 -- again is this the same commenter?) I really wasn't saying anything about the substance of the protest. But since you ask -- from what I do know of this situation, the protesters have some legitimate gripes. First -- the process was clearly not done in the open, with real community input. This was a done deal -- Black and Bloomberg wanted the charter schools. The legally required public decision-making was a sham. As to the substance -- I tend to think many of these schools (I know most about the Kennedy situation) were not providing the education students deserve. I also know that in the Kennedy situation the DOE failed the students and teachers for a long time by not dealing with some horrible and corrupt leadership. I also think there is some legitimacy to the argument that Kennedy could have been saved if it was given the same resources New Visions will have at its disposal.

  6. I always thought Civil Disobedience was supposed to be directed toward those responsible for changing the situation, not innocent bystanders.

    It seems blocking the public sidewalk was poorly targeted and might be more likely to erode support instead of helping.

    As usual, it looks like SBU was more interested in publicity, instead of actually finding an effective strategy for change. Sure, publicity can be a tool for change, but it is not the only one. They seem to like it because they enjoy it, instead of caring about the results.

    And, also as usual, BxNN plays right along with them. So way go to guys. SBU is in the news again!

    But what did they actually accomplish?

  7. Let us all now praise the violence that has engulfed Egypt overnight. SBU should go to Cathie Black's office with sticks and rocks and show her what real civil disobedience is about!

  8. Wait, I thought BxNN didn't have enough money and had to cut staff. I keep hearing they aren't covering local stories because they don't have enough staff. How did they have time to go downtown to cover this manufactured non-event? It looks uncomfortably like BxNN is covering pet groups of the Editor's wife, instead of reporting on issues of interest to the community.

  9. Ouch! I wish that was me, the ever so annoying and persistent anonymous comment leaver, who had connected the uncomfortable dots for the commentariat. It looks like you have rattled the cage of the your readers and have more angry, frustrated, fed up commenters than you think!

    Again, I find a small sense of solace that you have finally taken my advice and provided a clear policy for your tyrannical comment deletions.


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