CLEVELAND (AP) -- An elementary school that was the site of one of the most tragic moments in Cleveland's civil rights movement soon will be torn down.
The Cleveland school board recently approved a demolition contract for the Stephen E. Howe Elementary School, the construction of which in 1964 sparked large protests from opponents who considered it an attempt to prevent integration, according to The Plain Dealer, (http://bit.ly/18tnO0r).
The Rev. Bruce Klunder, a 27-year-old minister, was killed on April 7, 1964, as he protested the school's construction by lying down in front of a bulldozer. The bulldozer's driver backed up over Klunder after other protesters laid down in front of the machine.
Although people shouted warnings to the driver, investigators agreed with his claim that he didn't hear them because of how loud the bulldozer was.
The night of Klunder's death, police used tear gas to control crowds that looted and vandalized property in the area. Thirteen people were injured and 26 arrested.
"Anyone who was raised in that area is probably glad to see it torn down at any cost," said school board member Robert Heard, who grew up in the neighborhood and attended another school nearby.
Rev. E Theophilus Caviness, of the Greater Abyssinia Baptist Church, said he was at the church when he heard about the incident. He rushed to the site, in shock, to see Klunder's body still in the dirt.
"Every time I pass that school, it's sacred ground," Caviness said. "It's a sacred location to all of us who were here and saw what the struggle was all about."
He said he'd like to see a monument built at the site, dedicated to Klunder and the sacrifice that he and his family made to the cause of giving equal educational opportunity to all children.
The district closed the school in 2005 because of declining enrollment.
Gary Sautter, the district's deputy chief for construction projects, said the building like will be torn down in November.
Information from: The Plain Dealer, http://www.cleveland.com