As protests against police violence shook the nation last summer, school districts around the country were grappling with the role of police on school campuses. At the time, Oakland Unified School District was the only school district in Alameda County with its own police force, and Oakland youth were taking up the issue. While students seemed to be unified in their opposition to the school police department, district officials and board members raised concerns about whether Oakland Police Department officers could do a better job with handling incidents on campuses. At the same time, youth were organizing to increase their power with a movement to lower the voting age to 16 for the school board, a move that Berkeley voters approved in 2016. 

The Oaklandside’s education equity reporter Ashley McBride interviewed two youth leaders, Denilson Garibo and Malia Liao, about these two concurrent movements of the past year, how adults can be allies, and what’s next for youth activism in Oakland. Garibo graduated from Oakland High School in 2020 and served as a student director on the board of education for the Oakland Unified School District, while Liao is a current senior at Oakland Technical High School and a youth organizer with Oakland Kids First.

The conversation was streamed on Wednesday, June 16 as part of The Oaklandside’s one-year anniversary event, Live-ish, a three-day celebration of our newsroom’s first year, featuring community conversations, short documentaries, panel discussions, and musical performances by local artists.

Blue Shield is the presenting sponsor of Live-ish.

Ashley McBride reports on education equity for The Oaklandside. She covered the 2019 Oakland Unified School District teachers’ strike as a breaking news reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle. More recently, she was an education reporter for the San Antonio Express-News where she covered several local school districts, charter schools, and the community college system. McBride earned her master’s degree in journalism from Syracuse University, has held positions at the Palm Beach Post and the Poynter Institute, and is a recent Hearst Journalism Fellow.