Uvalde CISD installs fence, restricts media access as parents’ protest marks fourth day

Superintendent Hal Harrell sent out a letter to district families Friday to address the protest

Nikki and Brett Cross, the guardians of Uziyah Garcia who was killed at Robb Elementary School, protest in front of a district building. They're demanding that the Uvalde CISD police officers be suspended. (KSAT/ABC News)

UVALDE – The standoff between Uvalde CISD and the parents of the Robb Elementary School shooting victims has intensified after the district took it a step further by installing fences and restricting media access.

Friday marked day four of the protest from the parents, who have remained outside of the district office since Tuesday. They’re demanding that UCISD suspend the district officers who stood in the hallway for 77 minutes during the mass shooting on May 24.

Brett Cross, the guardian of Uziyah Garcia, spoke with Uvalde CISD Superintendent Hal Harrell one-on-one Thursday. However, Harrell wouldn’t budge.

It wasn’t long after that meeting that the district began installing fencing near the entrance to the district office. As of Friday, Harrell announced in a letter to district families that the installation is nearly complete, minus the delivery of gates and a few other parts.

“They will be installed as soon as they are available to us,” Harrell said. “The contractor is now installing two gates at the central office building as they work their way through the security upgrade plan for the district. Also, cameras and access control systems are being installed on campuses.”

In addition to the fence installation, Harrell said media is restricted from the area, unless accompanied by district administration.

He said in the letter that these decisions were made in an effort to find “an end to the disruption.”

“We have shared our willingness to meet with the individuals to address their concerns, but to date, only one has accepted our offer,” Harrell said in the letter. “We do not condone this group’s behavior and are seeking an end to the disruption.”

Cross is joined at district headquarters by his wife, Nikki, and other relatives of victims including Gloria Cazares, the mother of Jackie Cazares, and Berlinda Arreola, the grandmother of Amerie Garza.

Their protest began Tuesday morning, where families camped outside of the district office, broadcasted audio of their children and projected home videos on the side of a building.

In a Twitter post on Thursday morning, Cross livestreamed his meeting with Harrell. After asking why he hasn’t suspended the five officers yet, Harrell said they need to remain with the district for safety reasons.

He also added that an investigation was ongoing and that an audit would be conducted this week.

As of Friday evening, the protest has surpassed 80 hours, with no end in sight.

Harrell and other district officials haven’t spoken with the families since Thursday.

“We want to assure you that there is no cause for alarm as the group’s focus is on district administration. We have never had reason to believe that they would shift their focus to campuses,” Harrell said.

Harrell said in the meantime, the district is looking for state or local partners in handling the protest and “restoring peace.”

The partners Harrell mentions haven’t been identified.

You can read the full letter below:

Letter to Uvalde CISD families from Superintendent Hal Harrell. (UCISD)

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About the Authors:

Cody King is a digital journalist for KSAT 12. She previously worked for WICS/WRSP 20 in Springfield, Illinois.

Rebecca Salinas joined KSAT in the fall of 2019. Her skills include content management, engagement and reporting.