The California Highway Patrol arrested at least 65 protesters Monday evening at the California state Capitol after they refused to leave after the rotunda had closed.
The protest in Sacramento was the first in a series of protests dubbed “State of Emergency” and planned by the California Teacher Association (CTA). The protests are meant to pressure the state Legislature to renew tax extensions to prevent deep budget cuts to schools, colleges and other essential public services.
The teachers union plans to hold a week long sit-in at the Sacramento statehouse along with demonstrations in cities across the state on May 13.
The college-age protesters and schoolteachers were arrested after they refused orders from the California Highway Patrol to vacate the building, which closes at 6pm. During the protest, they chanted slogans such as, “Teachers and students united for justice,” and held signs saying, “Tax the rich.”
“We’re not just here to lobby. We’re here to raise some hell,” Betty Olson-Jones, president of the Oakland Education Association, said as the arrests began.
“This whole system is being destroyed, needed services are being killed, the richer are getting richer, we have to do something to reverse that,” one protestor said, according to FOX40.
CTA President David Sanchez told local news station KQED that the upcoming protests are modeled on the month-long pro-union protests that occurred in Wisconsin, after the state’s governor proposed eliminating most collective bargaining rights for public employees.
“Our teachers are absolutely fed up with what’s happening right now,” Sanchez said.
As planned, protests in Sacramento continued Tuesday.
Democratic Governor Jerry Brown has been seeking to renew increases to the sales, personal income and vehicles taxes as an alternative to an all-cuts budget, according to San Jose Mercury News. Democrats have warned that accounting for the deficit through budget cuts alone would devastate public schools, colleges, law enforcement, health care programs, and other basic public services.
California ranks 43rd in the nation in education spending.
CTA hopes to persuade at least two Republican lawmakers in each chamber of the state Legislature to support the tax extensions.
Watch video of the protest, courtesy of FOX40, below: