Bronx Activists Arrested at DOE Protest

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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.