Student Protests Boiling Over
as Marchers Head to Sacramento

Written by Eric Louie. Posted in News, Politics

Published on March 02, 2012 with No Comments

Demonstrating for social and economic justice, protesters began a 4-day march from Oakland to Sacramento yesterday in a quest to restore cuts to education and social services. Photo by Eric Louie, Media Workers Guild.

By Eric Louie, via Media Workers Guild.

March 2, 2012

The weather was ominous Thursday morning as Bay Area Occupiers for Education prepared to spend four days marching to Sacramento in a call to educate 100 percent of the 99 percent.

But by an early afternoon kick-off rally at Oakland’s Frank Ogawa Plaza, the skies cleared. No other rains are expected for the trip that will culminate Monday when thousands rally at the State Capitol.

Communication Workers of America and other union organizers plan to join the students in a show of solidarity aimed at building momentum for an American Spring of protests — culminating May 1 in what some envision as an international “general strike,” even if the “strike” is largely symbolic.

“It’s not time to be begging anymore, folks,” said Peter Brown, 61, a machine technology teacher at Laney College, to the few hundred gathered at the plaza. Protesters will rally support for the Millionaires Tax Initiative that is gathering signatures for the November ballot.

Various Occupy Education events were planned around the country on Thursday. In the Bay Area, there were rallies at colleges and universities, and an occupation of the State building in San Francisco in which a dozen people were cited. All of these events are a build up to the occupation of the state capitol on March 5.

Protesters gathered in the lobby of the State building in San Francisco for a "teach-in." Photo by Luke Thomas.

Protesters held signs that read, "Refund Education: Make the 1% Pay." Photo by Luke Thomas.

"Tax the Rich!"

In Oakland, after marchers from other schools arrived, demonstrators left the plaza together before splitting into two. A majority went to demonstrate elsewhere, while a few dozen going to Sacramento continued north to Berkeley where the teachers union was holding its own rally outside the school district offices. Passing cars gave honks of approval to the group, which held signs and was led by a large, inverted American flag as the members walked through major streets.

After the rally, with the sun setting, marchers continued the pilgrimage to Sacramento. As they walked in the dark, residents and passers-by asked where they were going, with responses like “whoa” and “damn” when learning their eventual destination. Police mostly monitored from a distance. In Richmond, patrol cars and motorcycle cops shepherded the marchers, telling them it was OK as long as they stayed to the right of the road.

St. Mark’s Church provided a respite for the night. Burritos and other foods were provided to the demonstrators. Some had come from the San Francisco actions. About 100 people signed up for the walk, according to one of the organizers, Stephan Georgiou, 25, a City College of San Francisco student. While the first night was indoors, he said they will also camp outside, and meet with others in the community to spread their message. They plan to reach UC Davis on Sunday, camping out and boarding buses Monday for the capitol.

Dee, 20, a San Francisco resident who did not want to give his last name, said he had attended community college in the Central Valley but quit because the quality of the education there was poor.

“I felt like a high school student,” he said.

Others at the rallies said they would go to Sacramento, but for work or other obligations. Melissa Cornelius, 30, has been bouncing between friends’ homes since graduating with a linguistics degree from UC Santa Cruz in December. She hasn’t found a job with decent pay. She works for $11 an hour, 15 hours a week at a greeting card store.

“It’s sad I’m even grateful to have the job I have,” said Cornelius, who is more than $30,000 in debt. “I had nothing to fucking do with what the bankers did.”

Eric Louie, a member of the Freelance Unit of the Media Workers Guild, is covering labor and the Occupy movement for The Newspaper Guild-Communications Workers of America.

More Photos

Governor Jerry Brown's report card.

"Save our schools."

"We are the 99%"

"Quality education is a right."

"Books not guns."

People power.

Prepare thyselves.

"It's not a free market unless workers and consumers are as powerful as the capitalists."

Eric Louie

Eric Louie is a reporter based in the San Francisco Bay Area. His work has appeared in, Contra Costa Times, The Record ( (Stockton), Philippine News, Pacific News Service and the Sunset Beacon.

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