In ‘Homeroom,’ Meet Oakland Youth Who Organized to End Policing in Schools

Still from "Homeroom" in which student Denilson Garibo holds up a laptop to point the webcam at a group of people behind him.

Courtesy photo

A still from "Homeroom."

A new documentary, “Homeroom,” shows how Oakland High School’s Class of 2020 faced a year of pandemic uncertainty with resilience and perseverance, amplifying calls to end policing in schools even as those schools shut down and their personal milestones were relegated to virtual spaces. The film is the third in a trilogy by the nonprofit Open’Hood, which previously produced “The Waiting Room” and “The Force,” examining health care and the Oakland Police Department, respectively. “Homeroom,” from director Peter Nicks and executive producer Ryan Coogler, debuts Aug. 12 on Hulu. It will also begin a week of screenings at Oakland’s Grand Lake Theatre that day. Gaby Arvizu, associate producer and sound recordist for the film, and Denilson Garibo, one of the students featured in the documentary, joined “Civic” to reflect on the development of the movement, having a film crew capture key moments in high school students’ lives and more than a year of pandemic restrictions.

“I remember just hearing about the amount of 6.3 million being spent on policing. That was the first time I was hearing from one of the Black Organizing Project ambassadors. And I was like, ‘What?’ Like, that shouldn’t be happening. We’re lacking on restorative justice programs and counselors and we are spending 6 million on police. That felt unethical to me.”

— Denilson Garibo

‘‘I think that being there really made me feel the power of the youth in Oakland. And I think this is part of a continuing narrative, a continuing story of the power of youth in Oakland, in the Bay Area and beyond. I was raised in East Oakland. And I know that ever since I was young, organizing was part of the youth experience, and to have been able to just capture that in such a transitional, phenomenal and tragic year is such an honor.”

— Gaby Arvizu

A segment from our radio show and podcast, “Civic.” Listen daily at 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. on 102.5 FM in San Francisco, and subscribe on Apple, Google, Spotify or Stitcher