Interview with Dolores Torres

During the strike, the fall of '68, can you describe what you saw outside the schools with the police and the teachers' pickets. If you were approaching school one of those days, what would you see?


Well, it's, it was horrible. I mean, I'm talking about--we felt, and we weren't paranoid about it, when I came out of my building there was a chopper overhead. And the chopper followed me. And this was going on with other parents also. If I went to, ah, IS55 I mean, I'm talking about precincts. We had cops from precincts all the way up from the Bronx. Standing around, ah, they weren't doing anything. They were just standing there. Our parents were manning the doors, making sure that no one went in. If the teachers that we had sent back to Livingston tried to get in and the parents kept them out they were charged with interfering with governmental procedure. The principals were in the schools. The teachers were in the schools. But the cops, there were about five thousand cops. I mean, you had wagons, you had the, ah, the trucks, you had the mounted police all over for a little group of parents, a small group of parents. Another time I went over to Junior High School 271. And, ah, what was going on there was, was, was crazy. I mean, parents were trying to stand in front of the school to keep people out and they were getting hit. I went into the school to make a telephone call. Before I could make the call I looked through the window. I saw a young man from a, from a, from a newspaper. He was beat up and bleeding. I didn't come out. I went back and got a washcloth and came out for him before I got outside, they had hit one of our warriors. I call her a warrior. This was a woman that was a teacher, Thelma Hamilton. She was a teacher. She knew what the problems were in the schools. She knew what the problems were in the schools and she was in the schools teaching. She was a community, ah, ah, activist. She was instrumental in starting a lot of programs in the neighborhood. This woman, at the time, I believe, might have been in her sixties, was struck in the stomach by a stick by a policeman and knocked down.