About 60 people gathered shortly after 8 a.m. at City College’s Gorton Quad on Friday, April 15. Students, faculty, and community members spoke out against budget cuts proposed by Jerry Brown.
Shortly after 9:00, the crowd had more than doubled in size in anticipation of a march that temporarily shut down Park Boulevard and C Street as protestors converged on Saville Theatre, site of the conference's meetings.
A microphone in the quad was passed around, and anyone willing to give a first name was welcomed to share their thoughts with the crowd.
Abel, a part-time professor at Mesa and City Colleges, spoke of two Chicano studies classes being cut — the district has canceled nearly all summer-school offerings. “I’m officially laid off as of May 19,” he told the crowd.
Lawrence pointed to a governmental budget pie chart, asking, “How can they possibly expect us to create world leaders spending three cents of every dollar on education?”
Sandra, a single mother of three, spoke of returning to school for “the hope of giving my daughters a life of dignity.” Due to the education cuts, she expects she’ll once again have to leave school and return to her occupation as a housekeeper.
The rally speakers had harsh words for both Republican and Democratic politics, with most criticism directed at Governor Brown’s party. “The Democrats are not your friends!” was a sentiment repeated by several speakers.
Gathered below the theater, activists chanted slogans such as “¡Si se puede [yes we can]! Tax the rich!” and “We want money for education, not for wars and incarceration!”
Richard Dittbenner, a college spokesman, responded to the crowd’s demands to speak with conference attendees. He came down to attempt to discuss the impact of the state’s decision to withhold $10.3 million in funding from the district.
“The state wants to de-fund up to 5000 classes in a school year...10,000 students are going to be adversely affected.” He also stated that the primary purpose of the meetings was to discuss offering educational opportunities for military veterans. Protestors had mixed to negative reactions.
As the lunch hour approached, the rally cleared their blockade of C Street and headed back to the quad with the intention of disrupting a catered banquet for forum attendees.