New high school in Oakland burglarized weeks before opening asking community for help

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Thursday, August 3, 2023
New high school in Oakland burglarized weeks before opening
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The FREEdom School set to open next month in Oakland was burglarized over the weekend, with laptops, several projectors and microphone stolen.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- The staff at a new high School set to open next month in Oakland is now scrambling after being hit by burglars.

Instead of getting lesson plans ready, the staff at The FREEdom School in East Oakland were making calls for a locksmith.

"My first thought was: 'Was there an earthquake?' Then I started to see more. That the cabinets were open. There was stuff on the ground and I went to see my colleagues office and there was stuff missing. That is when I realized there was a robbery," said Rubi Pelayo, co-founder and Director of Operations for the FREEdom School.

Over the weekend, the independent high school in East Oakland, serving gang-impacted youth was burglarized. Eight laptops, several projectors and microphones were stolen. The school's co-founder, Cesar Cruz says they are not taking it personal.

MORE: Thieves steal 60 computers during Oakland school break-in

"I think it's indicative of hunger. Lack of resources and that is bigger than a neighborhood because we are seeing crime happen in downtown to everywhere else," said Cruz.

Despite losing $6,000 to $8,000 in property, they are staying focused on the bigger mission. Their first high school class is about to coming in.

"We are building a different kind of school. A school that you don't sit at school the whole day. You travel every day. Amazing experiences," said Cruz.

For 14 years, the community-based organization Homies Empowerment worked in the community doing after school programs, community outreach and feeding those in need. In six weeks, they're making history opening the Freedom School.

MORE: East Bay student musicians collaborate to help Oakland School for the Arts after instrument thefts

"We are starting with 30 ninth graders in the fall regardless if we have laptops or not. We will figure out a way to make it happen. At the end of the day, they are expecting it and we can't be another group of people who let them down," said Reyes.

Every desk is ready with inspiring stories of change makers.

"We do this to follow in the legacy and remind our young people that we come from greatness when historically they have been told they come from nothing," said Reyes.

Wednesday, new locks are going in and cameras are to follow. Multiple expenses that were not part of their budget. With this GoFundMe, they are hoping the community steps in to help

"As we are getting ready for the first day of school and we are super excited to receive them," said Cruz.

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