Sixty-eight protesters including two SF State students were arrested Monday evening after they refused to leave the state Capitol building as part of the rally for higher education.
Hundreds of demonstrators took over the Capitol rotunda after thousands rallied at the steps of the Capitol building to protest budget cuts to higher education earlier in the day.
According to California Highway Patrol Capt. Andy Menard, those arrested were taken to the Sacramento County Jail on charges of trespassing and resisting arrest. There were over 210 officers present at the event.
Edward Murphy, who worked at the state legislature for 12 years, said although the night ended on a negative note it does not take away from the overall message of the day.
“Something has got to be done for our education system,” said Murphy. “I’m happy all these people turned out today because these politicians may not respond to our voices, but they respond to our numbers.”
The California State Student Association, University of California Student Association and the Student Senate for Community Colleges organized the mile-long march from Sacramento’s South Side Park to the steps of the Capitol building.
Volunteer “peace keepers” from these groups helped keep the thousands of people organized throughout the march.
San Diego community college student Trung Nguyen, a volunteer peace keeper and representative of the Student Senate for California Community Colleges, said the rally was important for students to get their voices heard.
“We have to let the politicians know we will not stand for these budget cuts,” Nguyen said. “But it’s not enough to this just once a year; we have to follow up.”
Some protesters expressed concern that attempts to keep the peace could be stifled by a few people trying to cause trouble. Sacramento City College student Brandon Di Miceli, who attended the evening protests, was worried about this issue.
“Some people are just acting like clowns,” Di Miceli said. “The police don’t have to be here. They’re only here because of the protestors. They say it’s peaceful, but some people here are antagonizing the police. They just need to go out and find a job.”
The rally featured a variety of speakers that all stressed the importance of affordable higher education.
Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom was among those who spoke, declaring that protesters should keep the pressure on the government.
“We’re here today to recognize the fact that a state with close to 2 million people unemployed cannot have an economic development strategy without a workforce development strategy and that includes higher education,” Newsom said. “Fees are growing at an unsustainable rate; we need to fix it, we can’t just talk about it.”
Sacramento State University Business Club President Ryan Burnett recognized the immediacy of the budget issue.
“We have to make change’s now otherwise getting an education is just going to get harder and harder,” Burnett said.
SF State humanities major Cristian Saucedo, who is a part of the College Democrats at SFSU, said the number of people in attendance was telling that people.
“We all question on who to put the blame on, but at some point you have to point the finger at yourself. What have you done to help the government,” Saucedo said. “Fortunately we are doing what’s right. This rally is a small step, but it’s a step in the right direction.”