Day 2 of the “99 Mile March for Education and Social Justice”

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VALLEJO – The second day of the “99 Mile March for Education and Social Justice” toward Sacramento started off with the same energy that it had on Thursday and was buoyed by visits from the mayor of Richmond and several UC Berkeley faculty members.

However, the group of marchers — who operate on the same democratic process as Occupy encampments — also ran into its first disagreement, causing the group to temporarily split.

Before the marchers left St. Mark’s Church Friday morning, they were sent off by Richmond residents.

Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin stopped by to thank the group for its efforts.

McLaughlin said even though Richmond is a progressive city, it cannot do any more for its schools without more state funding.

Additionally, 15 UC Berkeley faculty members met the marchers on Friday.

The group of about 45 marchers — composed largely of students from UC Berkeley and San Francisco State University as well as members of Occupy San Francisco — walked about seven and a half miles before it was met by the faculty at about 1 p.m.

Wendy Brown and Richard Walker, co-chair and vice-chair of the Berkeley Faculty Association, organized the faculty members, who came from departments across the campus.

“A couple dozen faculty members have been active (in fighting budget cuts) the past few years, so we wanted to do something to support the march,” Walker said as Brown helped serve vegetarian chili to the marchers.

Anant Sahai, an assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer sciences, said he graduated from the campus in 1994 and as such felt compelled to march.

“When I was in school, everyone knew Berkeley was the best, and it still is, but the state is threatening to make it not be the best,” Sahai said.

Sahai recognized that faculty from his department are usually not as active in protests as humanities faculty, but said that they still support the protesters.

Celeste Langan, a UC Berkeley English professor who was arrested Nov. 9, had wanted to organize an open university march in 2009 but could not because of responsibilities. Consequently, she relished the opportunity to march.

Langan said she is supposed to be working on an essay for the Modern Language Association on the Occupy movement and its relation to the etymology of the word “occupation.”

UC Berkeley freshman and marcher Maggie Hardy said she thinks the faculty’s support legitimizes the protest.

“It shows that this isn’t just a phase we students are going through,” Hardy said. “There’s a real demand for education that the academic community supports.”

After marching across the Alfred Zampa Memorial Bridge into Vallejo — the group’s final destination for Friday — the march stopped around 7:30 p.m. due to a disagreement about how to proceed.

The destination — Rehoboth World Outreach Center — was at least five miles away, and some marchers wanted to use the supply vans and some help from a sympathetic Vallejo resident to shuttle over. Others wanted to keep marching.

The group deliberated and eventually split. The half that went ahead brought pizza back for the marchers, who had a mile and a half left.

The marchers sprinted once Rehoboth was in sight and got in for the night around 8:40 p.m.

Christopher Yee covers Berkeley communities.

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  • Dr Mysterious

    Please define Social Justice!

    Free Willy, Free Jerry, Free Hispanic Transsexual transgender social justice degrees for all.
    Karl Marx would be proud.

    Our constitution guarantees “the pursuit of happiness” not happiness itself.

    • Stan De San Diego

       “Social Justice” to leftists/progressives has as much substance as “family values” has to Christian fundamentalists. It’s an emotive catchphrase, devoid of any of intellectual content.

  • Anson

    The real story here:  Nobody on campus supports the crazies any more.

    Only 45 people are marching, only some of those Cal students. That’s just the student organizers, they couldn’t even get anybody to join them.

    Faculty?  Walker and Brown couldn’t be bothered to march along, so grabbed a couple of their usual colleagues and showed up for a photo-op serving chili.  

    • Jake

      I don’t see any reason to take a shit on this movement.  Do you like feeling like you understand the “real story”?  

      • Stan De San Diego

         Anson makes valid criticisms, and your refusal to respond with anything of substance doesn’t suggest any well thought out reason on your part as to why you support this movement. If it’s more of a “feel good” thing to you than any concrete plan with definable objectives, that would explain why many people aren’t optimistic that this movement will achieve anything productive.

    • Heliana

      Anson- you are sadly mistaken. The faculty marched with us for a good number of miles- at least until Hercules. I am not an organizer- haven’t participated in a single organizing meeting…just a super concerned CAL PhD student who marched from Richmond to Vallejo yesterday. Where did you get your facts from?

      The students I spoke with yesterday were really inspiring- many of them undergrads who were participating for the first time in a meaningful and peaceful nonviolent action. We saw young kids, adults and elders along the way who cheered us on- understanding all too well in blighted towns with boarded up windows, that unless we stand up for public education- there will be no pathway to the American Dream- for any of us.

      I am happy to show you (or anyone else who is interested) video footage of the courageous and self sacrificing students and faculty who gave of themselves yesterday for the benefit of us all. I am very interested to know who you are and why you are spreading such misinformation? Interesting question: who benefits from your rant and at whose expense are your lies?

      • Stan De San Diego

        “The students I spoke with yesterday were really inspiring- many of them
        undergrads who were participating for the first time in a meaningful
        and peaceful nonviolent action.”

        Well, we’re all happy that this “action” was nonviolent (for a change), but in all honesty what do you expect to accomplish? The state of California has some serious fiscal problems that will only be resolved when the voters and taxpayers give some serious thought as to the size and scope of state government, define priorities, and come up with some realistic expectations regarding budgeting and what this state can and can not afford. Unfortunately, many of the so-called “activists” who protest cuts in educational spending for the citizens of this state seem to have no problem with endorsing such lunacy as the present incarnation of HSR, taxpayers funding education for illegal aliens, and a lot of the other budget-busting programs that strike their fancy.

        One of the cultural problems with Berkeley (both the campus and the city) is that the fixation with 1960’s style protest politics provides an emotionally appealing (to some) alternative to sitting down, going through the numbers, and making the type of hard decisions that are de riguer in the real world, from the CEO of the largest corporation all the way down to the working-class breadwinner who has to take care of a family. The protest ethos also has the side effect of attracting undesirable and counterproductive elements such as street people, criminals, and malcontents looking for to cause problems than to make any positive contributions. For those reasons most of us really don’t care to endorse your movement and prefer to keep our distance.

    • Walter P

      It is true that there were only a few Cal students, but this wasn’t a Cal event. It was organized by Occupy Education of Northern California. There were students from Cal, CCSF, SFSU, Stanford, UC Santa Cruz, UC Davis, Solano Community College, Laney College, and Santa Rosa Community College–those are just off the top of my head. I’m sure there were other colleges represented. The main reason why more people didn’t joint was simply that to do it you had to miss three days of classes. For that reason many people walked only 1 or 2 days. The cast changed quite a bit throughout the march but there was a core of maybe 40 who stayed the same. The first day had 45 marchers because many people took a part in the actions on college campuses that day and joined us later that night. By the time we reached UC Davis we were probably 75 in number, but I’m sure over 100 people had taken part in at least a day of the march. 

      That’s not including the many dozens of community members who fed and housed us along the way, and some even provided showers to marchers. This march was a huge production and the support from the community was absolutely incredible the whole way. But perhaps most important to me was the sense of community we diverse marchers made in such a short period of time. This was one of the most amazing experiences of my life.