ANDERSONVILLE — Cops blocked an attempted sit-in at Lyman Trumbull Elementary School Tuesday that would have turned a school book fair into a show of civil disobedience.
This was the plan: Parents, students and activists were to enter the book fair before 3:30 p.m. and then surprise officials and authorities by refusing to leave the building in protest of the proposed closing of Trumbull school.
But somehow, CPS officials got wind of the plot, and word spread among protesters that access to the building would be limited, sources said.
Four police officers were outside the school's main entrance and on the street, and a security guard was stationed inside the book fair, with other security also on the lookout. People asking to go inside were first denied access, but later allowed in one at a time, blocking the potential for any sort of mass action.
"I think it's ridiculous. It's a book fair. It's public property. This is a complete overreaction," Harissis said.
Stan Nelson, 84, lives in Park Ridge but used to live in the area and graduated from Trumbull in 1941, he said. He said he got a call yesterday inviting him to "a meeting" during the book fair, where Trumbull supporters could voice their disapproval of the CPS proposal.
"I think it's kind of a sorry statement that the police are keeping people from coming in to attend a meeting, it doesn't make sense to me," he said, also criticizing what he and other CPS critics say is a faulty space-use formula that landed Trumbull on the closing list in the first place.
Trumbull Local School Council Chairman James Morgan said parents, many of them in the country undocumented, were scared away from the sit-in because of the risk of arrest.
"Even though they were all about it and excited, when it came down to the fact that this would be a civil disobedience-type thing, I think a lot of them were really scared about that," said Morgan, who said he couldn't be at the protest.
He guessed that attempts to keep the protest "on the down low," could have contributed to the lack of parents who hung around, in addition to the police presence.
"I'm disappointed that it didn't work, but I understand why it didn't work," he said.
Morgan said he couldn't be at the protest, but will be at the Board of Education vote Wednesday that will decide if Trumbull closes or not.
A CPS spokesman was not immediately available for comment.