Students Rally Against Governor's Proposed Education Cuts
By Dan Aiello
California Progress Report
A protest against Governor Brown's proposed $1.4 billion dollar budget cuts to the UC, CSU and Community College systems was held today on the west steps of the State Capitol in Sacramento.
The rally, numbering well into the thousands, consisted primarily of college students from the Los Angeles area but included students from all education levels. Official estimates by the California Highway Patrol representative Sean Kennedy have yet to be released. The rain-soaked protest, which followed an earlier march around the Capitol, was peaceful.
BAMN (By Any Means Necessary), a coalition to defend affirmative action, integration and immigrant rights, was one of the organizers of the event and the first to call for a protest against the Governor's proposed cuts. "The historic civil rights gains that have been won in California -- gains that have provided educational opportunities to millions over the last 50 years and have made California's higher education system a model for the world -- are now endangered," claims BAMN in its press release.
Yvette Felarca, a spokesperson for BAMN, described today's march and rally, "Overall, a huge success." Felarca said crowd estimates for the march, which occurred before the rain began, at approximately 30,000. "There were students from all sectors of education, from middle and elementary schools all the way to UC students," attending, Felarca told the California Progress Report.
Felarca claims "there is zero support" among today's protesters, "for the huge tax education cuts proposed by the Governor. What we know is there's money in California, it's just a matter of where and how to get it."" The most popular chants during the march were 'Tax the Rich,' and 'Tax the corporations,' Felarca told CPR.
Felarca believed most of today's protesters were not at the Capitol to pressure Republican lawmakers to support the Governor's June ballot tax initiatives, but instead to protest the governor's $1.4 billion dollar budget cuts to the State's education system, still reeling from last year's budget axe. "Even if the tax proposals pass in June, we'll still be facing these proposed cuts," Felarca told CPR.
According to BAMN's press release, the event was intended "to defend California's promise of higher education for all."
Felarca told CPR that further protests are planned, and believes there is support to get "five hundred thousand protesters" to attend an event planned for sometime this spring. "We definitely believe we need more actions like today's," Felarca told CPR.
Today's march and rally were co-sponsored by the California State Student Association and the Student Senate for California Community Colleges.
Dan Aiello reports for the California Progress Report.