Thousands of Protesters Rally on Steps of Capitol In Concerted Attempt to Influence Legislators

Photo: Protesters rally at the steps of the Sacramento Capital.
David Herschorn/Photo
Protesters rally at the steps of the Sacramento Capital.

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March 4th: Live From Sacramento

Protesters rally on steps of state capitol in Sacramento.

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Live from Sacramento: March 4, part 2

People in support of public education from around the state of California came to Sacramento for a day of action to rally and address grievances.

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March 4: Day of Action

Footage from Berkeley, Oakland, and Sacramento from March 4, 2010, the day of action to defend public education throughout California.

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Individual Causes Unite in Day of Action
Thousands of Protesters Rally on Steps of Capitol ...

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SACRAMENTO-Of the more than 10,000 Californians who rallied Thursday in favor of public education across the state, about 2,000 trekked to Sacramento to make a direct appeal to lawmakers.

Students, faculty and staff from throughout Northern California gathered to rally, sing and direct slogans at lawmakers in the Capitol building. Though protests turned violent in nearby Davis, demonstrators here avoided confrontation with law enforcement, choosing instead to focus discussion on proposed solutions.

"It's a day of incredible hope," said Ananya Roy, a UC Berkeley professor of city and regional planning who was involved in organizing the participation of about 500 campus community members at the rally. "All of us are coming together to stand against the defunding of public education."

SAVE the University, a campus faculty group, helped organize the "Educate the State" rally and coordinated a fleet of buses to transport supporters from Berkeley and Santa Cruz to Sacramento.

According to Richard Walker, the transportation coordinator for SAVE and a UC Berkeley professor of geography, about 100 students and faculty came from Santa Cruz to participate in the protest in addition to those from Berkeley.

The rally featured a series of speakers on the steps of the Capitol, including professors, students and lawmakers.

Gail Mendes, secretary-treasurer of the California Teachers Association, said the demonstrations Thursday were intended to influence the state Legislature.

"We stand here with one clear united voice today," she said. "(The legislators) don't have the courage to come out and look you in the eye."

State Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, said to the crowd that funding for public education must have priority over tax cuts.

"Let's make this the year we start restoring the California dream around public education," he said.

About 45 minutes later, the crowd began chanting "What's the fix? 6-5-6!" in reference to a proposed bill from Assemblyman Alberto Torrico, D-Fremont, to tax oil extractions and direct the subsequent revenue to fund public higher education.

George Lakoff, a UC Berkeley professor of linguistics, addressed the crowd about his own proposal for a state constitutional amendment that would remove the two-thirds majority rule in the Legislature necessary to pass a budget or raise taxes in favor of a simple majority vote.

Many in the crowd said lawmakers have turned their backs to the ongoing financial woes of public education in spite of its value to the state.

"They just don't get it here," said Joseph Palermo, a history professor at Sacramento State University, in reference to the lawmakers inside the Capitol.

Rene Gomez, a sophomore at Sacramento State, said he had to take time off from school because of the fee increases. He added that he came to the rally in hopes of seeing a change in the future.

"I don't want this to happen to my younger sister," he said.

ASUC Senator Lean Deleon said the diversity of the crowd would send a strong message to state government officials.

"This is a really good way to show that we care about public education," he said. "We are not going down without a fight, and they're not cutting from us without our voices."

Contact Shaunt Attarian and Allie Bidwell at

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