Occupy Education Marching to Sacramento
The weather looked ominous Thursday as Bay Area Occupiers calling for more money for education got ready to spend four days marching to Sacramento. But by an early afternoon kick-off rally at Oakland’s Frank Ogawa Plaza the skies were clear, with no other rains expected for the trip that will culminate with thousands rallying at the state capitol Monday.
“It’s not time to be begging anymore folks,” Peter Brown, 61, a machine technology teacher at Laney College, said to the few hundred gathered at the plaza.
Various Occupy Education events were planned around the country Thursday. In the Bay Area there were rallies at colleges and universities, and an occupation of the state building in San Francisco in which a dozen people were citied. An occupation of the capitol is also planned.
In Oakland, after marchers from other schools arrived, demonstrators left the plaza together before splitting into two. A majority went to demonstrate elsewhere, while a few dozen going to Sacramento continued north to Berkeley where the teachers union was holding their own rally outside the school district offices. Passing cars gave honks of approval to the group, which held signs and was led by a large, inverted American flags as they walked through major streets.
After the rally, with the sun setting, marchers continued. As they walked in the dark, residents and passers-by asked where they were going, with responses like “whoa” and “damn” when learning their eventual destination. Police would pass by but mostly kept a distance. In Richmond patrol cars and motorcycles were both in front of and behind the march, telling demonstrators it was OK as long as they stayed to the right of the road.
They ended up at St. Mark’s Church to rest for the night, having burritos and other food with demonstrators who already arrived. Some had come from the San Francisco actions. About 100 people signed up for the walk, said Stephan Georgiou, 25, a City College of San Francisco student and one of the organizers. While the first night was indoors, he said they will also be camping outside, and meeting with others in the community to spread their message. They plan to reach UC Davis on Sunday, camping out and boarding busses Monday for the capitol.
Dee, 20, a San Francisco resident who did not want to give his last name, said he had gone to community college in the Central Valley but left. He didn’t think it was a quality education.
“I felt like a high school student,” he said.
Others at the rallies said they wanted to go to Sacramento, but could not because of work or other obligations. Melissa Cornelius, 30, has been moving between different friends’ homes since graduating in linguistics from UC Santa Cruz in December. Her student housing ended when she graduated, and it is hard finding a job. She works for $11 an hour, 15 hours a week at a greeting card store.
“It’s sad I’m even grateful to have the job I have,” said Cornelius, who is more than $30,000 in debt. “I had nothing to do with what the bankers did.”
Eric Louie is covering the Occupy movements for The Newspaper Guild-Communication Workers of America Local 39521.