A protest was held today at the TUSD board meeting to denounce the closing of 10 schools, all of which have majority minority populations. Many people showed up to speak at the call to the audience, a long line outside the building was formed. However, even by 6:30, when the call was scheduled to begin, they would not let anyone in. The reason given was related to violating fire code. There were also no speaker system set up for those who couldn’t be inside to hear the proceedings. ”We didn’t expect this many people,” the board said. It is curious however, that despite the fact that they didn’t expect a lot of people, there were barricades and cones set up from the very beginning.
I wasn’t able to see the call to the audience, here are my photos from outside.
Full Set: http://chrissummitt.com/blog/tusdbrdmtg4_9_13/
The TUSD board has stressed that there is a $17 million dollar deficit that is limiting their sources to fund their schools and that there is nothing that can be done. These school closures are occurring where public education is needed most. Therefore, we ask community members to come together for this event to demand that the board does more with their power and “Find the Money and Stop School Closures.”
Though the decision to close down schools has been made, it’s not too late to overturn there decision; the board has from now till the start of the new school year to stop such an injustice. More importantly, the closure of 11 schools should not be allowed, especially in silence.
Over the years, the TUSD board has continuously failed the community, by undermining decisions that helped the welfare of students and all people in their district. Its time to act, our children have the right to education. Please join us in saving our children’s futures.
Tonight’s board meeting got ‘a little rowdy’. There was a short call to the audience. The banned books were mentioned and Pedicone denied this happening. Around the middle of the meeting, the banners were brought out outside of the building. Chanting ensued. Eventually the whole crowd encroached upon the gated entrance and let their voice be heard.
Toward the end of the meeting, Michael Hicks got bored, left the meeting and came outside. He sat on the railing and began openly taunting the crowd under police protection. After much ridicule, he went back to the meeting.
At this point I was not allowed to go inside to take pictures. The barricades were doubled up and the police refused to let anyone into the open meeting which is by law open to the public. The reason, we were too rowdy. Eventually, the supervisor came out and allowed one person at a time in. Here are the pictures I got.
FULL SET: http://chrissummitt.com/blog/protestaz/boardmtg_7_2_12/
Prior to the start of this week’s board meeting, there was a short press conference. An announcement was made regarding the department of education opening an investigate into civil rights violations perpetrated by TUSD.
The Civil Rights Center, Inc.(the CRC), an Arizona Nonprofit Advocacy group headed by Executive Director, Silverio Garcia Jr., filed a RACIAL DISCRIMINATION complaint against the Tucson Unified School District #1 on January 17, 2012.
Here are the photos from that press conference:
Full Set: http://chrissummitt.com/blog/protestaz/boardmtg_5_8_12/
More information here: http://threesonorans.com/2012/05/03/breaking-office-of-civil-rights-opens-investigation-into-tusd-school-board-for-civil-rights-violations/
FULL SET OF PICTURES: http://chrissummitt.com/blog/protestaz/boardmtg_4_10_12/
How it went down:
The board meeting tonight was epic. On the agenda was the vote on whether or not to renew Sean Arce’s (director of the Mexican American studies department) contract. There was a large turn out from the community to show support for Sean. The board meeting had an extended call to the audience which lasted 3 hours. Many people had very moving, very inspiring things to say about the MAS classes and in support of Sean.
These meetings always draw a huge crowd because of the huge community support and interest in saving the classes. Regardless, the board chooses to have the meetings in a tiny board room and force the majority of the community out onto the street to hear the meeting over a speaker system. This time they got a projector with a video feed of what was happening inside. This could easily be avoided by just choosing a bigger venue but it has never happened.
Once the call to the audience ended a large group of students and community supporters stood up and began chanting. They were all tied together at the wrist with zip ties. Using the chairs in the room they barricaded themselves into a circle and shut down the meeting. The security rushed to the front, the board members ran away, and the crown went wild. At that time they decided to pull the video feed so that none of this could be seen by anyone who wasn’t in the board room. Lots of chanting and community outcry took place.
After a fair amount of time had passed Mark Stegeman (board president) came out and attempted to issue his conditions for the continuation of the meeting. The crowd yelled back their terms, and eventually the board conceded and came back out. A vote was passed to fire Sean Arce. A smoke bomb was released. More chanting. The board leaves. The community exits the building and as this happens, security grabs a youth and tries to tackle him. The community members surrounding him fight to get him back and there is a huge struggle. Eventually he escapes and the security disperses. The meeting is over. Intense. Let the pictures tell the story better.
FULL SET HERE: http://chrissummitt.com/blog/protestaz/boardmtg_4_10_12/
On 6/14/2011 UNIDOS held a 24 hr vigil in front of the TUSD headquarters to protest HB2281
FULL SET HERE:
One of the most amazing events I have ever photographed. No one expected this to happen. I attended the board meeting like I always do in support of the students defending ethnic studies. It was a pretty big turnout and I barely got a seat in the back. I had all my equipment with me just in case anything happened, and it did.
Here I was just taking some test shots of the audience to get my exposure correct, I happened to have my ultrawide on as that is what I usually start with. Minutes before the scheduled start of the meeting several students ran in to the front of the room where the board usually sits. Carrying chains they pushed through a lone security guard who tried to manhandle them before they were able to sit down. As the nine of them sat down they chained themselves to the chairs.
As soon as I see them run in I start shooting and running up to the front at the same time. Struggling with the right exposure in this dimly lit room, I gave up at one point and just put the iso as high as it could go. I had my photo bag sitting on a chair and not on my back and so when I ran up I left it, leaving me with only one lens. Luckily it was the wide angle. I got to the very front and shot everything I saw, the students pounding their fists, the crowd behind me growing. The space to shoot got tight real fast, oh how lucky I was to have had the ultrawide.
The students made their demands and were finally heard (sort of) and I captured it all. It was an inspiring event and I’ll never forget it. The rest of the story is really better told in pictures, so here they are
FULL SET HERE: