25 arrested during protest

A rally held in front of the city Education Department’s headquarters at Tweed Courthouse in protest of the city’s shuttering of failing public schools turned ugly on Monday.

Approximately 150 students, parents and school advocates convened on the steps of Tweed to oppose the Panel for Educational Policy’s vote this week on whether to close 26 public schools around the city.

Councilmembers Charles Barron and Jumaane Williams, both of Brooklyn, along with 23 other demonstrators, were arrested when they congregated on Chambers Street and began blocking car traffic in the name of their cause.

“The police came and said, if we didn’t move, we’d be under arrest,” Barron said, recounting the scene.

Minutes later, the cops swarmed Barron and the other protestors, chaining their hands with white, plastic handcuffs.

The protestors were shuttled to the seventh precinct, where they were questioned and detained for a couple of hours. They weren’t taken to the first precinct, Barron said, because the cops feared the demonstrators would recongregate there.

The protestors were released from the precinct around 7 p.m. that evening.

Barron, who represents neighborhoods in Brooklyn and East New York, said the arrest was well worth the message they got to send to city authorities.

“I was overwhelmed with joy, pride and honor to be with these young students and parents,” Barron said. “Sometimes you have to dramatize an issue, and say business can’t go on as usual when an injustice is occurring.”

Shutting down struggling schools that could be “fixed,” he continued, is not an acceptable solution.

“It’s disgraceful,” Barron said, “that they’re [displacing] very intelligent students.”

— Aline Reynolds