Live Blog: Protesters Rally on Steps of Capitol

Skyler Reid/Staff

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Live from Sacramento: March 4

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 related to decreased support for education.

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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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Photo: <b>Students from UC Berkeley</b> headed to Sacramento early Thursday morning.   Photo: <b>The main event ended by about 1pm</b> when most protesters left the capital and headed back to buses.   Photo:

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This is a live-blog of the Daily Cal's updates about today's protests at the state Capitol in Sacramento. If the main Daily Cal Web site does not load, check the Daily Cal's Twitter or Facebook for updates.

3:42 p.m.

At about 3:30 p.m., buses from Sacramento have returned to UC Berkeley.

1:15 p.m.

Just after 1 p.m., protesters began to leave the front of the Capitol building and head back to the buses. Between 100 and 200 protesters are still there, but the main event is over.

1:03 p.m.

UC Berkeley linguistics professor George Lakoff, speaking to the crowd, said he is frustrated with the way legislators have been handling funding for public education and that the two-thirds rule needs to be eliminated.

"They don't believe the government should serve public needs," Lakoff said. "They don't believe there should be public goods. You are a public good! What's the point of having a budget if you have nothing to spend?"

While concluding his speech, Lakoff was visibly emotional when he spoke of his experience at UC Berkeley.

"I've taught at Berkeley for the past 38 years," he said. "I walk to class every day saying, 'I get to teach these wonderful folks.' I am proud of you."

12:46 p.m.

The crowd is chanting, "End two-thirds" in reference to the California budget rule. UC Berkeley professor George Lakoff is speaking and cites fellow professor Robert Reich: "The top one percent in California owns more property than the bottom 95 percent." The crowd is still large but appears to be losing a little enthusiasm after such an energetic morning.

12:22 p.m.

UC Berkeley ASUC President Will Smelko and Executive Vice President Tu Tran said they were impressed with the number of students that have traveled to the Capitol to support education.

"I'm not sure of the exact number, but you can go around and find almost every UC, almost every CSU and probably about 70 percent of the community colleges represented here," Tran said.

ASUC Senator Lean Deleon said he was excited to see the turnout of students from across the state, ranging in age from elementary school students to college students.

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

12:18 p.m.

Assemblymember Alberto Torrico, author of AB656, which would tax oil companies to fund higher education, is speaking. In response, the crowd is chanting: "What's the fix? 656!"

12:15 p.m.

Gail Mendes, the California Teachers Association secretary-treasurer, addressed the crowd earlier, saying the demonstrations today are to send a message to the state's legislature and to protect education: "We stand here with one clear united voice today. We're here to give a lesson to the people in this building, and they don't have the courage to come out and look you in the eye. We need to close the corporate loopholes that allow these kinds of cuts."

12:06 p.m.

At the first mention of Proposition 13, the crowd around the Capitol erupts in boos. Students are walking through the crowd with voter registration forms.

11:54 a.m.

Speaker: "Are you ready to fight?" Crowd: "Damn right!"

11:48 a.m.

A Sacramento State professor with a guitar and harmonica tells the crowd: "I know you're ready to fight, but are you ready to sing a song?" The crowd begins singing along with the, "I Got the California Fee Increase Blues."

11:46 a.m.

Protesters have compared privatization to the "stars upon thars" idea from the Dr. Seuss short story, "The Sneetches." In that story, some of the Sneetches have stars on their bellies, while some do not, and that absence is a basis for discrimination.

11:39 a.m.

The crowd is chanting, "Come on down," to the suited people watching from the balcony of the Capitol.

11:35 a.m.

Protester at Capitol holding up a sign with a picture of California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger: "I'll be back ... TO DESTROY EDUCATION!" Another sign reads, "UCall it fee hikes, I call it EXCLUSION."

11:31 a.m.

Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg is speaking in front of the Capitol: "How is it we can afford tax breaks at the same time we cut education? ... Make this the year we start restoring the California dream around public education." Steinberg is introducing other state senators whom he terms, "pro-higher ed." Words elicit cheering from the crowd.

11:25 a.m.

Kevin Wehr, president of the Sacramento State chapter of the California Faculty Association, estimates that there are approximately 2,000 people on the north steps of the Sacramento Capitol building. He estimates that that number includes 500-600 people from Sacramento State University.

11:20 a.m.

Iraq war veteran and Sacramento State student Motecuzoma Sanchez speaking to a rowdy crowd outside the Capitol: "We are fighting here for the future."

11:14 a.m.

Several hundred UC Berkeley students, faculty and community members gathered on campus this morning to bus into Sacramento to rally in support of today's statewide day of action.

Although the early morning ride was somewhat subdued, many students said they felt excited and hopeful about the day's events.

Erika Garcia, a public health graduate student, said that while focuses from previous demonstrations--budget cuts and fee increases--have not disappeared, the intent of today's protests are different.

"It's a unified front for the funding of public education at large," she said. "It's not so much about the fee increases specifically."

Ananya Roy, a UC Berkeley professor of global poverty, gave a pep talk and safety instructions to the bus riders on the way to the Capitol.

"It's a day of incredible hope," she said. "All of us are coming together to stand against the defunding of public education."

Currently, hundreds of students, faculty and community supporters are gathered outside the Capitol building before the protest is slated to begin.

As legislators look down on the protesters from the balcony of the building, protesters are engaged in slogans and chanting about public education.

"What do we want? Education! When do we want it? Now!" protesters chanted at the government officials.

-Shaunt Attarian and Allie Bidwell

11:08 - The buses have offloaded across the street from the state Capitol. UC Berkeley professor Ananya Roy delivered safety instructions on one bus during the drive from Berkeley to Sacramento. The mood on the buses was somewhat subdued, but once the buses arrived, the energy level spiked. Protesters are holding signs and chanting, while people watch from the balcony of the Capitol.

9:34 a.m.

Four buses left West Gate with no passengers. A total of nine buses carrying passengers are headed towards the state Capitol.

9:20 a.m.

Five more buses have left for the state Capitol.

9:08 a.m.

Additional buses are being loaded and leaving.

8:57 a.m.

The first bus is departing for Sacramento. Two other buses have been loaded.

8:36 a.m.

About 80 to 100 people are being loaded on to buses at Oxford Street and Center Street.

8:25 a.m.

About 20 people wait for buses at UC Berkeley's West Gate.


Contact Shaunt Attarian, Allie Bidwell and Mihir Zaveri at [email protected]

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