At least 72 protesters arrested in March 5 occupation of state Capitol building

A number of protesters were arrested in the Capitol building following their decision to stay and occupy the space.
Gracie Malley/Staff
A number of protesters were arrested in the Capitol building following their decision to stay and occupy the space.

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SACRAMENTO — As California Highway Patrol officers stood guard at the entrance of the state Capitol building’s rotunda Monday afternoon, protesters inside the building kicked off a 7-hour occupation that resulted in at least 72 arrests.

The occupation followed a rally on the Capitol building’s steps in which thousands of protesters from across the state called for lawmakers to end the recent trend of decreased funding to the state’s public higher education systems.

The rally, which was supported by UC Berkeley administrators and the UC Student Association, among others, featured speakers from the UC, California State University, California Community Colleges and public office.

“You cannot have an economic development strategy without a workforce development strategy that includes higher education,” Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom said at the rally. “We can’t just talk about it. We have to do something about it in this state.”

The student speakers called on state legislators to provide alternative measures to increase state investment in public university systems.

“Budget cuts and fee increases have made it harder and harder for students of color (to get an education),” said ASUC Senator Sydney Fang at the rally. “It is time for the state legislature to stand up with us.”

For years, the UC Board of Regents, university officials and campus administrators have tackled decreasing state funding through a series of student fee increases.

Students responded by organizing large-scale protests on individual campuses to demonstrate their dissatisfaction — the most notable recent ones being the recent pepper spray incident at UC Davis and Occupy Cal protests at UC Berkeley in November.

But the events of March 5 indicate an increasing focus on directly addressing the lawmakers who will determine future state funding to public universities.

Some protesters and university figures said the subsequent occupation of the capitol building sent the message that further cuts in the public education system will not be tolerated by students.

“The more people who join the fight for public education, the better,” said UC Student Regent-designate Jonathan Stein, who was in Sacramento to take part in the UC Student Association’s lobbying efforts. “We’re more effective as a student movement because we have advocacy through the Occupy route and through the lobbying route.”

Around 1 p.m. after the rally, about 120 protesters entered the building and sat down in the rotunda.

Shortly thereafter, the protesters organized a general assembly to vote on the group’s demands, which included having the state fully fund education and amend Proposition 13.

Newsom briefly came into the rotunda to discuss the future of the occupation with a small group of protesters, but some protesters urged him to leave through chants of “Newsom go home.”

By 5 p.m., about 60 of the protesters had left. Several protesters also gathered in one of the halls outside of the rotunda and decided to occupy it as well.

UC Berkeley graduate student Logan Rockefeller Harris occupied the hallway with dozens of other students. She said the rally and subsequent occupation of the Capitol was the product of several months of work and helped to unite students from different universities.

“We’ve been building up to this event today,” she said. “It really brought together the CSU, (California Community Colleges) and UC students.”

But at 7:35 p.m. — after repeated dispersal orders — dozens of California Highway Patrol officers arrested a group of 18 protesters in the rotunda. About 20 minutes later, the officers moved to the hallway to arrest the 50 remaining protesters occupying the building. A few others were arrested earlier in the day, said California Highway Patrol Officer Sean Kennedy.

The evening protesters were arrested for trespassing, according to Kennedy.

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  • I_h8_disqus

    The students should not try to amend prop. 13.  Home owners are subject to the same economic problems that everyone else faces.  You raise taxes on them without providing them the increased income to pay those taxes, and you will force them out of their houses, and then only the rich will be able to live in houses.  Increasing property taxes would be comparable to the UC raising student tuition.  It in unfair.

  • guest

    these people shouldnt have voted for Brown in the first place. Hypocrites

    • Stan De San Diego

       Keep in mind that your typical Occupy supporter is not the sharpest tool in the shed.

  • Current student

    bag em and gag em

  • Advocates

    March 5th also marked the day our California Students became Advocates for Education.    It would be nice if the Media started using the correct terminology, they are not protesters.
    They are young adults, who are focused on improving  California’s Public Education for everyone with the blessing of the UC Regents.

    •  Peddle your empty pronouncements somewhere else, please.

  • ABC

    Where will this additional funding for public education come from?  State taxation is already near nationwide highs.  Perhaps we shouldn’t rely on almost half of our state tax revenue coming from the gains that the top 1-2% earn, only when the economy is up?

    • Since you asked:

      It could come from a $50 per annum tax increase on the median California taxpayer. (

      It could come from an excise tax on petroleum.(

      It could come from a surtax on the wealthiest Californians–and there are more of them now than ever.

      It could come from dismantling the prison-industrial complex erected over the past 40 years (cost: $47k/prisoner/yr)(

      There are plenty of other ideas out there.

      The idea that there is “just not enough money” is complete baloney.  The financial markets are so awash in cash that they don’t know where to put it.  The real question is: are we going to force the young people of our state to mortgage themselves to the wealthy in order to secure an education that qualifies them to work in low-wage jobs that further enrich the wealthy?  This is wage slavery pure and simple.

      If the relatively wealthy in this state had an ounce of sense they’d realize that reinvesting in education is probably the best and cheapest way to forestall widespread social unrest that will otherwise  redistribute the wealth they think they are protecting.

      • [It could come from a surtax on the wealthiest Californians]

        A tax those same “millionaires” could easily avoid by buying a house or condo in Las Vegas, declaring that their primary residence, and spending less than 6 months a year in this state. How about instead of chasing off those with INVESTMENT CAPITAL to start new businesses, we stop all the insane incentives that attract illegals, homeless bums from other states, and the like? Or is the liberal goal to turn California into a third-world nation as a way to appease their white guilt about stuff that happened way before most of us were even born?

      • Stan De San Diego

        “The idea that there is “just not enough money” is complete baloney.  The financial markets are so awash in cash that they don’t know where to put it.”

        Well, they know not to put in anywhere where there’s excessive risk, which would include a state where the liberals think the answer to every problem is to raise taxes and impose more regulations. In other words, they are a lot smarter than you.

    • Guest

      All income tax revenue is going to swing with economic ups and downs.

      Property taxes are more stable, but Californians decided to freeze those with Prop.13. 

      • I_h8_disqus

        Property taxes are not more stable.  They are paid by people who are subject to the same economic swings.  It is despicable to increase property taxes on people whose economic outlook has not improved.  You would end up throwing thousands of seniors out of their homes, because they couldn’t keep up with the tax burden.

    • I_h8_disqus

      The additional funding will come from reducing funding to other programs.  For example, kill the high speed railroad and reduce expenses allowed for the legislature.  Both would provide quite a bit of money for education. 

  • Guest

    Something that I have learned in my short life-span is that we don’t all have the same approach to life, and sometimes it’s very hard to see things through someone’s else’s eyes, but hopefully those who are committed to trying to do what they believe to be the right thing can bring positive changes to our society.

    • Guest2

      please, keep trying to see through new eyes.

      • Guest

        Will do

  • libsrclowns

    Is this a grad requirement for some majors? Which ones?

    • ABC

      It certainly doesn’t hurt your application to become a barista upon graduation.

      •  Or a “performance artist” or “professional activist”…

    • Current student

       yes — any department including the word “studies”

      • GoldenBear

        (yes — any department including the word “studies”)

        So students majoring in the following programs must fulfill a “protest” grad requirement? 

        Aerospace Studies
        American Studies
        Celtic StudiesConservation and Resource StudiesDevelopment StudiesEast European StudiesInterdepartmental Studies
        Interdisciplinary Studies
        International and Area StudiesItalian Studies
        Legal Studies
        Urban Studies
        Visual Studies