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Category: Protests

Students occupy UCLA to demand admission of more minorities

UCLA admissions protest

More than two dozen high school and community college students staged a protest at the UCLA admissions office Friday, demanding the university double the enrollment of black, Latino and American Indian students.

Thirteen people were arrested during the protest, which began about 3:15 p.m., according to UCLA. The arrests came after campus police ordered the demonstrators to disperse after the building closed at 6 p.m., UCLA officials said. There were no injuries.

Jose Alvarenga, who attends Pasadena City College and plans to apply to UCLA next year, said the protesters are determined to "open the doors of the university" to more underrepresented minorities. They also want the university to reconsider the applications of blacks, Latinos and American Indians who have been denied admission.

"This school does not look like this city of Los Angeles at all," he said. "Many students don't even apply because they don't feel confident enough that they will be accepted."

UCLA is committed to having a diverse student body, said spokesman Phil Hampton.

"Within the constraints of state law, the campus is doing everything possible to ensure that the student body reflects the state population," he said. "We have made great strides but acknowledge that more improvement is needed."

This year, 44.9% of the California residents admitted to UCLA are Asian American, 25.8% are white, 21.1% are Latino, 3.8% are black and 0.7% are Native American.

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Photo: Student protesters occupy UCLA's admissions office Friday, demanding more minorities be accepted to the university. Credit: Associated Press

Students, faculty plan protest at UC Regents meeting Wednesday

UC Regents protest

While UC regents meet inside the Sacramento Convention Center on Wednesday, students and instructors will be demonstrating outside, continuing their protests of spiraling tuition costs.

"We need a crackdown on UC mismanagement of executive pay, declining in-state enrollment, tuition hikes and police violence toward students," organizers said in a statement.

Representatives of the UC Union Coalition, UC Student Assn. and Council of UC Faculty Assns. planned to address the regents at the start of the meeting Wednesday morning and then hold a rally.

Student activists have staged a string of protests in recent months, clashing with police. In March, three UCLA students were arrested after protesters disrupted a San Francisco regents meeting with a "spring break" demonstration in which some stripped down to bathing suits and tossed inflatable beach balls.

In a November incident that was recorded on video and widely viewed online, UC Davis protesters were squirted with pepper spray by campus police.

Undergraduate costs for California residents, including tuition, room, board and campus fees, has risen to $31,000 and university officials have warned of more increases if voters this fall reject Gov. Jerry Brown's proposed tax hike.

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Photo: Students protesting rising tuition fill the stairway and walkway at the UC Riverside building where the UC Regents met in January. Credit: Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times

Will California voters support Jerry Brown's calls for new taxes?

Budget protest

Is California ready for a new round of taxes?

In releasing a revised budget with major cuts, Gov. Jerry Brown is hoping voter will give the state some breathing room by raising taxes in November.

Talk back LABrown warned that the deficit -- now at an estimated  $16 billion -- could grow significantly if voters reject his proposed ballot measure to raise the state sales tax and income levies on the wealthy, according to The Times' Christopher Megerian and Anthony York.

Republicans on Monday sharply criticized Brown for pushing for new taxes.

FULL COVERAGE: Get the latest on the budget battle at PolitiCal.

"We believe this updated proposal is part of the governor's strategy to try and fool Californians into accepting a costly tax increase as a necessary step," said a statement from Assembly Republican Leader Connie Conway (R-Tulare) and Assemblyman Jim Nielsen (R-Gerber).

Without the taxes, Brown said, there would be an extra $6.1 billion in cuts. Besides $5.5 billion in reductions in K-12 schools and community colleges, the University of California and California State University systems would be cut by $250 million each. Other popular programs, such as lifeguards at state beaches, would also get the ax.

Brown said he was open to suggestions on better ways to close California's budget gap but said that the state had to live within its means. Anticipating strong reactions to his proposal, he asked for "a modicum of stoicism."

Are you willing to support Brown's tax plan? Or do you support major cuts in services?

Share your views below.

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Chat: Times reporter Christopher Megerian answers reader questions on the budget.

Photo: Christina Dorame holds a sign that reads "Tax the Kardashians" during a protest of Gov. Jerry Brown's revised budget in downtown L.A. Credit: Ricardo DeAratanha/ Los Angeles Times / May 14, 2012

Occupy, union groups rally for L.A. banking ordinance

Protest

More than a hundred demonstrators, including members of the Occupy movement and union groups,  held signs and blew whistles on the steps of City Hall on Tuesday to support a proposal requiring banks doing business with the city of Los Angeles to report on foreclosures, charitable giving and other activities.

The City Council is considering the proposed law and is expected to vote within the hour.

Jacob Hay of Good Jobs L.A. said the ordinance, if adopted, would aid residents and elected officials in deciding whether to do business with certain banks based on their activities.

It would require banks to disclose data on their foreclosures, small-business loans and other involvement in city neighborhoods. An earlier version of the law would have ranked banks by their community-friendliness, but the final version left that provision out.

Tuesday's rally comes months after demonstrators with Occupy L.A. demanded an aggressive crackdown on Wall Street banks, camping at City Hall for two months before being removed by the Los Angeles Police Department.

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Photo: Pamela Hall with Good Jobs L.A. leads the rallying cry against the banks during a press conference in front of city hall. Credit: Photo by Michael Robinson Chavez/Los Angeles Times

L.A. City Council to vote on banning tents in parks

City Hall lawn

The Los Angeles City Council will vote Tuesday on whether to ban tents, sleeping bags, bedrolls and hammocks in scores of city parks, a move timed to the reopening of the City Hall lawn where Occupy L.A. protesters camped out last year.

As crews prepare to take down the fence that has surrounded the lawn for the last six months while it was rehabilitated, some homeless advocates worry the ban could have broader implications beyond keeping protesters from returning.

Others say the ordinance is redundant because overnight camping is already banned in city parks.

“It's such a waste of legislative time,” said Becky Dennison of the Los Angeles Community Action Network.

Officials in the city attorney's office said what's new about the ordinance is that it clarifies what constitutes camping and includes an explicit ban on tents. According to the ordinance, tents in parks pose health and safety issues, “cause visual clutter and blight” and can ruin the experience for other park visitors.

Father Richard Estrada, who works closely with the homeless at his Roman Catholic parish near Olvera Street in downtown Los Angeles, said he doesn't think people should camp in parks.

But the fact is, he said, they do.

If city officials enforce the new provisions of the ordinance, “this will hit real hard on this community," Estrada said. 

“You're going to shove someone out, arrest them. But what does that do?” he said.

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Photo: A fence surrounds the park at City Hall last month as work continued on the lawn, post-Occupy L.A. Credit: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Time

Taxpayers' bill for Occupy L.A. protest rises to $4.7 million

LAPD officers form a skirmish line at the corner of First and Main Streets last November and announce they will arrest the Occupy LA protesters who were spilling onto the streets near the Occupy LA camp at Los Angeles City. Credit: Mark Boster/ Los Angeles Times

A new report says Occupy Los Angeles cost taxpayers at least $4.7 million, two-thirds of which was spent policing the protest.

The report by City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana says the Los Angeles Police Department spent $1.3 million monitoring protesters during the course of their two-month demonstration outside City Hall, and $1.3 million evicting them. An additional half a million dollars was spent by city security officers, according to the report.

The tally of city costs is $2 million higher than an estimate reported in February. Officials say the higher figure reflects newly reported costs to police the protest and the tab to restore the City Hall Park and several monuments damaged by protesters. The city has received more than $400,000 in donations and rebates to restore the park, Santana said.

360° tour: Occupy L.A. encampment at Los Angeles City Hall

His report comes as the City Council deliberates Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's proposed budget, which calls for hundreds of layoffs and job eliminations to help close a $220-million budget deficit.

Continue reading »

Arts high school students walk out to protest proposed budget cuts

Cortines school student protest

More than 1,000 students from the Cortines School of Visual and Performing Arts walked from their downtown campus to school district headquarters Tuesday afternoon to protest budget cuts that have the potential to devastate the school’s arts program.

The high school opened three years ago as the district’s flagship arts program in a gleaming, high-tech campus on the north edge of downtown. The school has struggled with a series of principals and other issues, but also has developed a committed following among students and their parents.

The students left campus en masse about 2 p.m., well before the midafternoon dismissal time. As they marched, they were supervised by Principal Norm Isaacs and numerous teachers. Los Angeles Unified School District headquarters is on the western edge of downtown, about a mile from the campus.

The Cortines school costs more to run than a regular high school because of its unique structure as well as its programs in visual arts, dance, theater and music. Each arts area has an assistant principal in charge, staffing that could be cut in half next year. More than a dozen arts teachers also could lose their jobs, said Judi Bell, a parent leader on the school’s governance council.

Some of those teachers could be replaced by teachers from elsewhere with more seniority if the cuts go through, which wouldn’t be fair, said Bell’s daughter, Rachel, the student body president.

“We need to have the same teachers in place for continuity,” said Rachel, a 17-year-old senior. “It’s hard enough when our principals are shifted around every year. We’ve grown attached to our teachers. They care about us.”

She added: “Cutting the arts wouldn’t really help anyone. We need equity and balance in our curriculum,  and the arts only help us academically. Cutting them would not fix any problem really.”

The budget cuts are driven largely by state funding reductions over the last several years. But the district and employee unions, notably the teachers union, have been at odds over how much the district can spend and how best it should use its resources.

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Photo: Students at the Cortines School of Visual and Performing Arts demonstrate against budget cuts. Credit: Katie Falkenberg / For The Times

Occupy group to protest foreclosures at Bank of America

Occupy protestOccupy Fights Foreclosure activists plan to “fraudulently foreclose” on a Bank of America branch in Pasadena on Tuesday afternoon, highlighting the case of a Los Angeles woman and her disabled daughter who lost their home.

The group, an offshoot of the 99% movement, is staging what it describes as a rally on the eve of Bank of America’s annual shareholders' meeting in Charlotte, N.C. The event will be at the Bank of America branch at 145 W. California Blvd at 4 p.m.

"We are asking that people not curse or act aggressively toward anyone, including police officers," the group said on its website.

The demonstration will be followed at 7 p.m. by an ACLU Pasadena/Foothill panel discussion on housing issues at the Neighborhood Unitarian Universalist Church, 301 N. Orange Grove Blvd. in Pasadena.

The group said it will run buses to and from the event from downtown Los Angeles, leaving Pershing Square at 3 p.m.

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Photo: Thousands joined a May Day rally downtown Los Angeles on May 1, including groups affiliated with the Occupy movement. Credit: Damian Dovarganes / The Associated Press

Charges filed against man who struck officer at L.A. May Day rally

Prosecutors have filed assault charges against a 23-year-old transient who is alleged to have struck a female Los Angeles Police Department officer in the back of the head with a drum during a May Day rally.

Brian Mendoza could spend up to nine years in state prison if convicted in the incident. He is scheduled to be arraigned after 1:30 p.m. Friday at the Foltz Criminal Justice Center.

He faces two felony charges, assault on a peace officer and assault on a public official, and two misdemeanor charges, assault on a peace officer and battery with injury to a peace officer. Prosecutors will ask for bail to be set at $130,000.

The incident in downtown Los Angeles was captured on video and uploaded to YouTube under the title "Cheap Shot on Cop." In it, a man dressed in a black T-shirt and black hoodie is seen approaching the helmeted female officer, circling around behind her and striking her on the back of the head with the item before running off.

Mendoza is nearly 6 feet tall and weighs 280 pounds, according to the sources. The female officer, who suffered a partial concussion, is about 5'1" and weighs 115 pounds, police officials said. The impact of the blow jerked her head forward and dented her helmet, officials said.

Police are continuing to search for several masked suspects who attacked officers with a large wooden pallet in a separate incident.

The incidents unfolded when officers issued a call for help at 4th and Hill streets at about 4:20 p.m. Tuesday when demonstrators, many from the Occupy movement, began circling officers and chanting, "We are the 99%."  The crowd swelled as officers arrived by bicycle, motorcycle and on foot to quell the brewing confrontation.

At least 14 arrests were reported Tuesday, including three in North Hollywood, one downtown involving a false bomb threat against a bank, and 10 predesignated detentions at Los Angeles International Airport.

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Occupy San Diego protester gets three months in jail

Occupysd
A 26-year-old San Diego man has been sentenced to three months in jail after being convicted of attempting to block the arrest of a fellow Occupy San Diego protester.

Andrew Fisher was also sentenced to three years probation after his release.

Of 44 people charged with misdemeanor offenses during the Occupy San Diego protest, only five have gone to trial. Most cases have ended with plea agreements.

Two cases ended in hung juries, one in acquittal and two in conviction. The other conviction resulted in a sentence of probation and community service.

After a five-day trial, Fisher was convicted of two counts of resisting or delaying an officer, and he was sentenced by Superior Court Judge Richard Whitney.

"While protesting is a cherished right, it is not a license to break criminal laws," City Atty. Jan Goldsmith said.

Occupy San Diego protesters camped out in the plaza behind City Hall for several weeks last year. Later, they were ordered off the plaza but allowed to stay in a grassy area near Civic Center Plaza.

Fisher allegedly attempted to pull a woman away from police as they sought to arrest her for crossing a perimeter onto the plaza.

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Photo: Occupy San Diego protest on Civic Plaza behind City Hall. Credit: Tony Perry / Los Angeles Times

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L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
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