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Teachers arrested in California Capitol in fight over budget cuts

May 12, 2011 |  8:11 pm


More than a dozen members of the California Teachers Assn., including the union’s president, were arrested in the state Capitol on Thursday evening as part of the group’s week-long protest against deeper budget cuts.

The teachers congregated in the hallways outside the offices of the Legislature’s top two Republican leaders, Sen. Bob Dutton of Rancho Cucamonga and Assemblywoman Connie Conway of Tulare, and refused to leave when the building closed at 6 p.m., said Officer Sean Kennedy, a spokesman for the California Highway Patrol.

While Kennedy gave a preliminary arrest count of 13 people, the teachers union issued a news release putting the number at 26. The arrests mark the second time this week that law enforcement has had to break up the union’s events. On Monday, CHP arrested 65 people after an event in the Capitol rotunda, where protesters –- mostly college students -- chanted, yelled and danced.

Thursday’s demonstration was more peaceful, Kennedy said.

The teachers union said the arrests were meant to draw attention to Republican opposition to the tax extensions favored by Gov. Jerry Brown and Democratic legislators. Earlier in the day, Republicans produced their own plan to balance the state’s budget, arguing that higher-than-expected tax collections this year will produce $2.5 billion in education funding, without new levies or extensions.

CTA President David Sanchez dismissed the plan as “deliberately misleading” and “gimmicky.”

“I am not willing to sit idle while a handful of Republican lawmakers in the state Senate and Assembly refuse to face the realities happening in the classrooms and communities across California,” he said in a statement. “So a few CTA members decided to visit two of them today to let them know that we are in a state of emergency and it’s time they started acting like it.”

-- Michael J. Mishak in Sacramento

Photo: A teacher is arrested at the state Capitol in Sacramento on Thursday. More than a dozen California teachers, including the president of the state's largest teachers union, were arrested as part of a protest over education funding in the state budget. Credit: Associated Press