Richmond Mayor Welcomes Occupy, Education Marchers

Written by Eric Louie. Posted in News, Politics

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Published on March 03, 2012 with 1 Comment

Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin on Friday warmly received hungry demonstrators at St. Mark’s Church who are marching to Sacramento to demand funding for education and social services. Photos by Eric Louie, Media Workers Guild.

By Eric Louie

March 3, 2012

City leaders aren’t always welcoming of Occupy, but that was far from the case in Richmond Friday.

Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin made a morning visit to St. Mark’s Church, the first overnight stop in the four-day Occupy Education march from the Bay Area to Sacramento. The group plans to reach UC Davis Sunday and board busses to join large demonstrations at the state Capitol on Monday. About 100 people signed up for the march, with some joining at stops along the way, according to march organizers.

As marchers started the day with bagels, coffee, juice and fresh fruits, McLaughlin said she was thrilled when the Occupy movement started to address wealth gaps and corporations. The City of Richmond is currently fighting with Chevron over property tax assessments the oil company believes are too high. Should Chevron win, government agencies would be forced to repay millions which would bring devastating budget cuts, McLaughlin said.

Hungry marchers were treated to an assortment of refreshments.

McLaughlin also commended Occupy for its focus on education. Many students in Richmond are immigrants, English learners and low-income groups that are in need of more resources, she said.

“Thank you for doing what you’re doing,” McLauglin said to the marchers.

McLauglin, who made headlines in 2006 when she was elected mayor as a member of the Green Party, urged support for electing more progressives to office. Eduardo Martinez, a progressive who is running for Richmond City Council in November, attended the reception and joined the marchers.  Many of the marchers personally thanked McLaughlin before continuing on their march, aided by a police escort.

Occupy Education includes a number of events around the country. Organizers, including many education unions, are calling on State legislators to fully restore education funding following budget cuts and multiple tuition fee hikes.

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

Eric Louie

Eric Louie

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

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  1. I could be wrong about this but I believe that Gayle McLaughlin is also the only California mayor enforcing the provisions of the California Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2009 that allow municipalities to fine foreclosing banks $1000/day on each of any foreclosed properties showing signs of blight.

    There’s now a proposal to increase that to $5000/day, per foreclosed property showing signs of blight, e.g., boarded or broken windows, graffiti. But, is any city except Richmond enforcing and collecting? If anyone knows and I’ve missed it, please share info.