Thousands march on Capitol to protest cuts in college funding
Thousands of students and activists marched through Sacramento's streets and rallied outside the state Capitol on Monday to protest cuts to California's colleges and universities.
"They say cut back, we say fight back!" the students chanted while waving signs saying "fund education, not war" and "cuts in education never heal."
The plaza on the west side of the Capitol was teeming with protesters during the rally, which was billed as a chance to "occupy the Capitol." Outside the building, student leaders and top Democrats who voted to slash higher education budgets last year addressed the crowd.
"We've cut billions of dollars and I've hated every minute of it," said Senate President Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento).
Van Jones, the activist and former White House green energy adviser, said demonstrators wanted the wealthy to pay more taxes to support higher education.
"All you want is a chance," he told the crowd. "You're not asking for charity."
Julissa Fisher, 25, said she's taking a semester off from studying biology at San Francisco State because she can't afford the tuition. Instead, she's working at a clothing boutique to earn money before returning to class.
"I should be graduating," she said.
California Highway Patrol officers patrolled the area during the rally, and a helicopter circled overhead.
Long lines formed at the Capitol entrances as some Occupy protesters planned to rally in the rotunda and other students sought out lawmakers.
-- Chris Megerian in Sacramento
Photo: Thousands demonstrated in Sacramento on Monday to protest cuts to higher education. Credit: Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press