Protest Turns Violent Over Plan to Relocate Students

Tang Peilan, Shi Mingyu, Huang Shulun and Denise Jia:

Hundreds of parents gathered Saturday in front of local schools and government buildings in the city of Leiyang in Central China’s Hunan province to protest the city’s order to relocate some students from public schools to a private boarding school.

The protests turned violent, leading to dozens of arrests. Some protestors threw water and beer bottles, bricks and firecrackers at police officers and local officials, and more than 30 police were wounded in the clash, police said (link in Chinese).

Parents complained of sharply higher school fees and protested that unsafe levels of formaldehyde had been detected in the private school’s classrooms and dormitories after incomplete renovations. Pictures and videos posted on social media showed protestors holding banners saying things like: “No private schools and give me back nine-year compulsory education” and “We will not live in toxic dormitories, and we will not enter toxic classrooms.”