Thousands participated in statewide Day of Action to defend public education
At the Capitol
By April M. Short
In solidarity with the nationwide protest against the State’s increased budget cuts to education, a large crowd stretched out from the front steps of the building and across expansive lawns.
College students, professors, parents and kids as young as 5-years-old raised signs with messages such as, “Educate our State,” and “Last Generation College Student,” in front of the California state capitol building in Sacramento on Thursday, March 4.
Speakers ranging from assembly members to students, parents, and professors pleaded for restored federal aid to education by any means necessary, and rallied supporters from a microphone at the foot of the capitol steps.
A funeral procession with “Public Education” printed on the sides of cardboard coffins marched through the crowd mid-speech shouting, “let the students speak.”
The March 4 protest remained peaceful throughout the day in Sacramento and gained support from many factions nationwide, including East Coast universities. Supportive strikes and protests took place across the country.
One speaker at the California state capitol building named off the campuses statewide with the largest protest efforts, and gave a hearty shout out to UC Santa Cruz, whose campus protest efforts had gathered over 800 protesters in a strike at the base of campus by noon.
The protest effort in Sacramento remained positive and peaceful, concluding around 1 p.m. with music and cheers that could be heard over three blocks away.
In many residential areas surrounding Sacramento, elementary school students came to school early to participate in morning protests.
Students, parents, teachers and other supporters from grades K-12, as well as college campuses across the nation, continue to unite and plan many future protest efforts.
In Santa Cruz
By Elizabeth Limbach
The National Day of Action for Public Education was a success across Santa Cruz County, where concerned residents rallied in Downtown Watsonville, at the Tower Clock in Santa Cruz, and in Aptos, where over 300 gathered at Cabrillo College. While the day had originally started in response to the state’s massive budget cuts to higher education, it since expanded to include grades K-12, which are also being adversely affected by funding losses.
Never a community to miss out on protesting, well, anything, UC Santa Cruz came out in full force for the March 4 Day of Action. Hundreds of students gathered at the school’s entrances, effectively shutting the entry points down and putting the campus on lockdown. Eventually the Santa Cruz Police shut down the top portion of Bay Street, preventing cars from nearing the action.
Campus administrators, who posted updates on the school’s website throughout the day, reported one incident of a protestor smashing in a car window and that some protestors were carrying knives and clubs. Their online message read, “Behavior that degrades into violence, personal intimidation, and disrespect for the rights of others is reprehensible, and does nothing to aid efforts to restore funding to the university.” It continued on to say that “these actions should cease.”
By 2 p.m., however, the base of campus was more reminiscent of Woodstock than a riot. A student band played while a few hundred students and allies lounged in the grass, drew with chalk in the shutdown intersection and danced to the music.
The protestors took the streets, also, marching from campus to the Clock Tower and then through the streets of downtown. With tens of millions in cuts made to UCSC in the past two years, the students and faculty who participated in the March 4 actions hope that their university, and education institutions across the state, will soon be given higher priority at the state level.
Read more about the March 4 protests at UCSC, and hear first-person accounts from people on the frontline, in next week’s Good Times, on stands Thursday, March 11.
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