Michele Clark Prep students plan walk out over tasing of student

March 18, 2010

I headed over to Michele Clark Academic Prep Magnet School to see if there were more issues at the school which may have lead up to Monday's tasing of student. Jennifer Matthew, mother of Keaira Matthews, said she and a few community organizers and members of her church would be at the school protesting school administration's handling of her daughter's incident. About 2:30 p.m. Mark Carter, a member of VOTE (Voice of the Ex-Offender) arrived with several protesters. But Matthews never came. As students were dismissed at 2:45 p.m., Paul Johnson, another member of VOTE, spoke to released students on a bullhorn. Johnson singled out Officer Brown who is reportedly stationed at the school. He asked the students to stage a walkout on Friday to protest Keaira's tasing. In front of the school, an unnamed protester began to taunt the police and school security as he videotaped them. He also singled out the same officer with sexual taunts and curses. (Ed note: language advisory) Within 10 minutes, the police presence at the school grew from four to 20+ officers with two paddy wagons on standby. A crowd of over a hundred students gathered across from the school. A few unfortunate drivers looked horrified as they tried to make sense of the swarm of kids and police horns pushing students toward Laramie Avenue. Harrison Street had suddenly become a parking lot. Hoping to get more detail about Monday's incident, I talked with Sergeant Dougherty. Dougherty said for the last two days there has been trouble at the school and one of the two officers involved in the altercation with Matthews had a broken wrist. Two students I spoke with said there is a lack of respect between the student body and the administration at the school, which is creating problems within the school. Eventually, I caught up with Johnson on Laramie Avenue to find out why he thought a walkout would address the problems at the school. He said this was a strategy to create "a disruption". I only noticed one officer with a Taser. Students I spoke with after the protest felt the school administration and security were very disrespectful toward the student body. Kimberly Martin, a junior, said there were arrests at the school occurring everyday. They singled out Timothy Lacy, a security guard, as being verbally abusive toward students. Bob Vondrasek, an activist with the South Austin Coalition, said a number of arrests at the school, involving after-school fights, have occurred in the last few weeks. The coalition does school patrols at May Elementary Community Academy.
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