SACRAMENTO —Thousands of students protested in support of higher education Monday through a rally in front of the state capitol, and over 100 demonstrators participated in a subsequent occupation of the building.
The rally featured several speakers calling on state lawmakers to increase funding to the public education system, including UC Student Association President Claudia Magana, Assembly Speaker John Perez and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom. Once the rally ended, protesters lined up to enter the capitol building.
“We’re here today because our actions are not matching our words here at the state capitol,” Newsom said at the rally.
About 100 students traveled from UC Berkeley accompanied by campus Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Harry Le Grande and about 15 faculty members. The group met up with students from other UC campuses — including UC San Diego, UC Davis and UCLA — and California State University students at the Capitol.
“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.”
Protesters began demonstrating at 10 a.m. with a march from Southside Park to the Capitol building.
After the rally, at around 1 p.m., about 120 protesters entered the building and sat down in the its rotunda, bringing the Occupy movement’s characteristic series of mic checks and consensus voting style to Sacramento.
Newsom briefly came into the rotunda to discuss the future of the occupation with a small group of protesters. Some protesters urged him to leave through chants of “Newsom go home.”
As of 5 p.m., protesters were deciding whether to stay in the building. A dispersal order may be issued soon.
Staff writer Christopher Yee contributed to this report.