Tag Archives: protests

Will State Leaders Hear the Protests?

Large protest at Capitol draws attention, results unclear

by Brian Leubitz

If you have been paying attention, you have noticed the appalling cuts that the state’s university systems have taken. In fact, a recent study showed that for most middle class students, Harvard is now more affordable than the CSU system.  No matter what your goals are for the CSU system, this is a very bad thing. It is not functioning as a way to improve the lives of middle and lower class Californians, and it is not providing the resources for economic development that it should.

And so we get yesterday’s protests from students of both university systems and their supporters:

Another day of protests played out at the state Capitol on Monday with thousands of demonstrators denouncing soaring higher education costs and a select group spending most of the day inside the rotunda to achieve one goal: getting arrested.

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The main group of arrestees, who will be charged with trespassing, apparently felt they had made their point, although it was unclear at times exactly what that was.

The ballooning cost of attending public colleges and universities in California was the primary focus, but at times the leaderless Occupy movement supporters discussed issuing demands on a range of issues, from the repeal of Proposition 13 to being allowed to use Capitol restrooms during their sit-in.(SacBee)

Occupy is very good at actions and getting attention. But in this case, and in others, the message got overpowered by the theatrics.  And maybe that’s fine, as there are more than enough wonks in Sacramento. Maybe the theatrics will be just the thing to open a few eyes.

But those eyes are just as recalcitrant as ever. The Republicans just look out on this, behind their anti-tax pledge suits, and glaze over.  Will this be the action that breaks through?  Or will there be more actions until it does? This protest was something of an organizing nightmare. But whether the state can continue to ignore the protests, when the function of our higher education systems continues to dwindle, is the larger question.

But as Dan Walters points out, higher education has taken a drubbing:

The thousands of college students who marched on the Capitol on Monday to protest rising fees and decreasing state support had a point: Higher education has taken a disproportionately heavy drubbing in recent years as politicians attempted – and largely failed – to balance the state budget.

The Legislature’s budget analyst has calculated that under Gov. Jerry Brown’s 2012-13 budget, state general fund spending on the University of California, the state university system and community colleges will have dropped 21 percent in five years, while fee and tuition revenue will have increased by 64 percent.(Sacbee)

There are a number of reasons for this, but you can mostly chalk it up to the fact that cutting higher education is the easiest. It involves the fewest lawsuits, and so the students get screwed over and over again. It is just one more piece of the dysfunctional governance by committee that gives the legislature strange cues.

We need more revenue, and we have two initiatives that would do that.  However, the Millionaire’s tax would actually get some of that to higher education for a change. Gee, isn’t that a novel idea.

@ProtestInTheUSA: from Madison to America…from Workers to All People

Is this the protest that wakes up America and starts the push-back to big business and their anti-human agenda?

National Nurses United, and the California Nurses Association, sure hope so, and we’re doing our part to move that along.  Please join our efforts by following @ProtestInTheUsa, our new national newsline of reports, notices, and videos about specific protests in the USA concerning democracy, healthcare, workers’ rights, and human rights.  @ProtestInTheUSA is starting as a twitter feed, and a hashtag #ProtestInTheUSA, and will be expanded from there.  Find it at www.twitter.com/ProtestInTheUSA.

Already @ProtestInTheUSA is helping document our national wave of protests-the upcoming mass rally of women in New York, the workers protesting in Ohio and Indiana for their rights, indigenous protests in Alaska and nurse protests in California.  We simply have got to find a way to bring all these protests together and amplify each others’ voices.  We’re many people–but one cause.

Rose Ann DeMoro, executive director of NNU explained why she’s hopeful for social change and , “With so many families and working people in America in trouble, with the recession, healthcare crisis, staggering disparity in income, and the ongoing corporate chokehold of our economic and political structure, more and more people will be taking to the streets calling for real change.  If you’re not protesting, you’re not paying attention. It’s up to all of us to help spread the fire.”

1. Email Scott Walker-tell him to take a hike; [email protected]

2. Phone him: (608) 266-1212

3. Fax him: (608) 267-7888

4. Follow @ProtestInTheUSA (It will be #FollowFriday, after all)

And in case you missed it, check out Thunderdome: http://twitpic.com/40tax9

Oh,and when America’s nurses lead protests, some in the corporate media actually ask them, “why nurses”?  Karen Higgins, an RN from Massachusetts and co-President of National Nurses United, lays it out: “The answer is simple: it is our professional and ethical obligation.  Our patients, and democracy, are under attack, working people are hurting, and the ability of the RN to provide appropriate levels of care for patients is weakened.  The Code of Ethics for Nursing tells us, ‘The nurse promotes, advocates for, and strives to protect the health, safety, and rights of the patient…(and) is responsible for articulating nursing values…(and) for shaping social policy.'”

Right now that means doing everything we can to help build and grow this national wave of protests!

Why the Prop 8 Protests Matter

From today’s Beyond Chron.

I didn’t join the street protests against Proposition 8 right after it passed.  My gut reaction was: “where were all these people when we had the chance to defeat it?”  But “No on 8” ran a terrible campaign that would not have effectively used more volunteers, and it’s possible that many had tried to get involved.  Now the state Supreme Court will decide what to do about Prop 8, and City Attorney Dennis Herrera has put on a strong case to have it overruled.  But that doesn’t mean the Court will do the right thing; even the best legal arguments can lose.  A mass movement of peaceful protest is crucial at building the political momentum to attain marriage equality – which can convince the Court it’s okay to overturn the “will of the voters.”  Social movements rely too much on lawyers and politicians to make progress – without effectively using the masses of people who want to help.  Now people are angry, and this weekend we saw mass protests across the country.  It’s now time for everyday people to get involved.

As Barbara Ehrenreich once argued, Roe v. Wade didn’t just happen because a majority of Supreme Court justices decided women have the right to choose.  It was after a mass movement worked hard for many years to make that politically possible.  While we like to believe the best legal arguments always win in Court, judges are – at the end of the day – politically connected lawyers who wear robes.  As much as Dennis Herrera’s lawsuit is well written and legally sound, it’s still a leap of faith for the state Supreme Court to override a popular majority in the last election.  And citizen action – if done effectively – can go a long way to give them the political courage to do the right thing.

Public outrage at Prop 8’s passage has not just been a few angry protests in the Castro, or righteous indignation at churches.  People who never thought of themselves as “activists” have suddenly been spurred into action – and they’re using the same tools the Obama campaign used to win the presidency.  For example, my friend Trent started a Facebook group called “Californians Ready to Repeal Prop 8.”  He expected a few hundred people to join, but in less than a week the group had over 200,000 members.  Efforts are afoot to collect signatures for a statewide proposition – in 2010, or sooner if we have a special election.

This viral activism is in stark contrast to the “No on 8” campaign – where people relied on political leaders who failed us in waging a statewide effort.  My first involvement with “No on 8” was in July, right after the San Francisco Pride parade.  The campaign had just collected thousands of postcards at Pride, and our task was to call these people and recruit them to volunteer.  But a lot of people come to SF Pride from across the state, and all the volunteer activities were in San Francisco.  It was a lot to ask someone who lives in Monterey or Santa Rosa to come table at a Farmer’s Market in San Francisco for a day.

I asked the campaign why they couldn’t just get people to do “No on 8” activities in their own communities.  They didn’t have to wait until the campaign could afford to open offices in other parts of the state.  Online groups like MoveOn have perfected the model of using the Internet to connect like-minded activists to each other – and get them to meet in “offline” locations to push their political cause.  My suggestion was ignored.  Now we see spontaneous efforts – organized online via social networks, without any “leaders” – to lay the groundwork for a future Proposition campaign to restore marriage equality.

November 15th was a massive “Day of Protest” against Prop 8, and we predictably had a huge rally in San Francisco.  But we also had nearly 2000 people in Sacramento, a whopping 12,000 in Los Angeles, 5000 in San Diego, 2500 in Santa Rosa, and over 1000 in Downtown Ventura.  And it wasn’t just a statewide action – 12,000 took to the streets in Seattle, 5000 in Boston, thousands in Chicago, 1000 in Albuquerque and even a rally in Peoria.  Prop 8 hit a nerve felt past California’s boundaries: during a presidential election that gave millions hope, one of our bluest states voted to take away peoples’ fundamental rights.  People are upset, and want to get involved.

Now Prop 8’s fate is in the hands of our state Supreme Court – who must decide if the greater good (equal protection under law) is worth telling 52% of California voters they can’t eliminate marriage rights.  Peaceful protests can give judge the resolve to do the right thing.  Unlike George W. Bush – who said he didn’t “listen to focus groups” after 2 million people across the world marched against the Iraq War on a single day – I believe that our justices will take these protests seriously.  Which is why they matter so much.

Join The Impact

PhotobucketI’m headed down to the e-board meeting, but I wanted to again mention the Join the Impact rallies in support of marriage equality today, in over 300 cities in all 50 states.  Organizers expect over 1 million people to attend nationwide.  Stay with Calitics all day, we’ll have site reports from at least 7 locations across the state and the country – San Diego, Los Angeles, Ventura, San Francisco, Sacramento, Chicago, IL, and Albuquerque, NM.  Hopefully we’ll have pictures and video from some of those events as well.

If you’re going to a JTI event, write up a diary and we’ll post it on the front page.  To find an event in your area, check the wiki.

UPDATE by Brian: We’ll be getting some updates later on today, but I thought this photo from the SF rally was worthy of sharing.

The Future of the Marriage Equality Movement

The mass of outrage and activism that has welled up in the wake of California’s passage of Prop. 8 will I think eventually be healthy.  It’s a testament to the failure of the No on 8 campaign that they were unable to channel this energy before the vote, but often it takes a disruptive outcome like this to make it happen.  And I think people are finally starting to ask the right questions and move from lashing out in anger to a more mature response befitting the message of equality.  The scattered instances of racial intolerance were harmful and unnecessary, especially given that, based on the exit poll data, there was no one ethnic group that deserved to be targeted (Republicans who crossed over to vote for Obama made up a far larger portion of the Prop. 8 coalition than African-Americans).  The various proposed boycotts (how could the owner of LA’s El Coyote donate to Yes on 8?  Given their clientele that’s unthinkable) and individual actions are natural outgrowths of a movement like this and they have their place, but at least someone is making sure that the actual culprits get mentioned in all of this.

What is odd about the loss of family rights for California’s gay and lesbians is that the losing old school campaign was built while the rules of campaigning where being demonstrably rewritten by the Obama campaign.

The Obama campaign’s success was built upon not ceding territory to old myths on Latinos, African Americans, and young voters. The myth that Latinos would never vote for an African American was debunked by the Obama campaign, the idea of low voter turnout among African Americans and young people was also debunked. But in addition to ignoring basic myths on minority voting behavior, the Obama campaign knew that it had to still work hard to get the electoral results they wanted. They waged a campaign to win the votes and turnout model they needed.

At the end of the day, Prop. 8 was still a campaign and it needed to maximize its potential, which it clearly did not do.  Many on this site have asked the right questions and will continue to do so.

As for the next steps, this is not, in my view, about patiently waiting back and hoping that the younger generation will reverse the decision at some unspecified point in the future.  It’s about sustained effort on a variety of fronts.  It is quite heartening to see 44 members of the California Legislature offer an amicus brief to the State Supreme Court on behalf of marriage equality in the ongoing lawsuit to invalidate the constitutional amendment.  There are a lot of politicians on our side.  

The spontaneous protests and marches can actually be a way to harness the energy if they are handled properly.  I think The Impact, a series of protests organized on a distributed model in California and in every state in America, is exactly what is needed.  This is actually quite promising and would move this seamlessly into an issue of civil rights.  Ultimately, there is a future for equality.  There always is.

Massive Protest At Mormon Temple In Los Angeles

Lots of people are angry about the passage of Prop. 8 and they are just channeling that anger organically.  One of the results has been street protests, and today’s blocked Santa Monica Boulevard.

Hundreds of people protesting California’s new ban on gay marriage demonstrated outside a Mormon temple in Westwood on Thursday, blocking traffic on a major boulevard.

The protesters claim the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints spent millions to air deceptive advertisements in support of Proposition 8, which passed on Tuesday with 52 percent of voters casting their ballots to define marriage as a heterosexual union.

If you’re unfamiliar with LA, that is a HUGE temple.  

There is other talk of boycotting Utah and Marriott hotels, and further street actions.  This is how civil rights movements typically mature.  And many are correct in the previous thread in saying that rights are not usually put to a vote.  This is all being done haphazardly.  Will a leader emerge from this movement?

…Pam Spaulding at Pandagon has more.

UPDATE by Brian: From the comments, some folks are organizing a similar protest in SF for tomorrow. Protest8 Blog has the information. It begins at 5:30  and goes from Civic Center down to Dolores Park.  

Democrats Ceding Ground On The Budget

L.A. teachers walked out of their classrooms for one hour yesterday to protest proposed education cuts in the budget.  In West LA they stopped traffic.  Speaker Bass, at LA Trade Technical College for a ceremonial swearing-in event, offered support to the teachers.

State Assembly Speaker Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) said the demonstrators — who included teachers in red T-shirts, parents with young children and students — were heard by the governor and state lawmakers wrestling with a $17-billion budget shortfall. She said Democrats in the Assembly and Senate will not accept any budget that is balanced through cuts only.

“I absolutely support the action taken by the teachers, and if it wasn’t for the swearing-in activities, I would have walked on the picket line right along with them,” said Bass at her ceremonial inauguration as Assembly speaker at Los Angeles Trade Technical College. “What the teachers did today was they sounded the alarm for the people of Los Angeles to understand how serious this crisis is.”

Of course, it would be nicer if this show of support translated into a revenue solution more robust than picking up the Governor’s ridiculous lottery borrowing idea and running with it.

Democratic lawmakers made an opening pitch Thursday for closing the state’s $15.2 billion deficit, using lottery borrowing as well as unspecified proposals to close tax loopholes […]

Assembly Democrats have supported the governor’s plan to borrow from the lottery but rejected his proposal to put the money into a so-called “rainy day” account. Instead, they would like to use the money to pay down debt.

Democratic leaders in both houses proposed giving schools more than the governor recommended. They include cost-of-living increases for teachers.

I think the move here for Bass is to get the necessary short-term revenue by whatever means necessary to balance the budget this year, and then put her taxation task force in motion thereafter and make the real fight through the next two years of her leadership.  But that’s unfortunately a shortsighted proposal.  Borrowing from the lottery means greater deficits in the future, and Californians understand this and have rejected the idea.  Every year that we fail to address the revenue side is a year where we have to borrow more and more to get the budget balanced, meaning that we’ll need more revenue when we finally get around to structural change.

General Strike

There was some question whether or not this would actually happen, but I’m proud of the ILWU for putting principles first and pulling this off.

Thousands of dockworkers at all 29 West Coast ports, including Los Angeles and Long Beach, took the day off work today in what their union called a protest of the war in Iraq, effectively shutting down operations at the busy complexes.

The action came two months before the contract expires between the dockworkers, represented by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, and the Pacific Maritime Assn., which represents port operators and large shippers, many of them foreign-owned.

“We are supporting the troops and telling politicians in Washington that it’s time to end the war in Iraq,” said union President Bob McEllrath.

This is the first major general strike against the war I can think of in my personal memory.  Two years ago most truckers stayed away on May Day to protest immigration policy and attend rallies in LA.  But this is the entire west coast of the US and Canada.

The longshoremen understand what our politicians must: this war is immoral, unnecessary, catastrophic, and damaging to our national character.  It needs to end.

(This is also why a strong labor movement needs to be sustained.  Not only does it provide an engine to upward mobility for the working class, it takes the role of our national conscience.)

UPDATE: Here’s an example of why the ILWU is out in the streets today.

Sgt. 1st Class David L. McDowell, 30, of Ramona, California died Tuesday in Afghanistan of “wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked using small arms fires.” The San Diego Tribune reports, “He had been deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq seven times and was a recipient of two Bronze stars and a Purple Heart.”

Seven tours of duty.  No end in sight.  What a tragedy.

Odds and Sods 4-23

Post-Pennsylvania and… well, nothing much different actually.  But next time, for sure!  Meanwhile, here are some California-centric notes:

• The California School Employees Association made their endorsements for the June primary.  In addition to Migden, they strike of an aversion to go out on a limb.  They only endorsed one Congressional candidate in a Republican-held seat (Charlie Brown), and they opted out of a lot of contested primaries in the legislative seats as well.  Manuel Perez did get the endorsement in the 80th AD, however (he is a school board member, so not a big shock).

• We don’t get into a lot of rural issues on the site, probably because of the bias toward writers here in urban environments.  But this salmon fishing ban is a big deal along the Mendocino coast.  This actually goes back to the Klamath fish kill in the beginning of the decade and Darth Cheney’s efforts to ensure that.  I think there are going to be a lot of angry fishermen wanting answers this fall.

• I keep forgetting to write about the State Senate primary in my own backyard of SD-23, between Fran Pavley  and Lloyd Levine.  Here’s some background on the race to succeed Sheila Kuehl.  I actually attended an environmental forum with these two last week and found them both to be really solid, with different strengths.  While Pavley is an astonishingly effective lawmaker – she probably has her name on more far-reaching climate change legislation than anyone in the entire country – Levine really seems to understand the nature of the fight in Sacramento and how best to bring about sweeping change.  I’m not going to be disappointed on June 3, regardless of the winner.  We’re hoping to get both Pavley and Levine on a future Calitics Radio show.

• Here’s a user-created video of our debate protest at ABC last week.  We have our own video set for release as well.

• Adam Liptak in The New York Times today: “The United States has less than 5 percent of the world’s population. But it has almost a quarter of the world’s prisoners.”

Yet we must remain “tough on crime,” even though rises and falls in the crime rate are not correlative to imprisoning people (Canada’s rate goes up and down roughly at the same time ours does, without a corresponding increase in the prison population).

• John Yoo won’t talk to the House Judiciary Committee but it’s really not his fault, you see:

In a letter, Yoo’s lawyer told Conyers he was “not authorized” by DOJ to discuss internal deliberations.

“We have been expressly advised by the Office of Legal Counsel of the United States Department of Justice that Professor Yoo is not authorized to discuss before your Committee any specific deliberative communications, including the substance of comments on opinions or policy questions, or the confidential predecisional advice, recommendations or other positions taken by individuals or entities of the Executive Branch,” Yoo’s lawyer, John C. Millian, wrote in a letter to Conyers.

As we all know, the executive branch can ignore subpoenas and prevent Congressional oversight.  Why, Yoo wrote it in a memo!  But he can’t discuss it.  Because the executive branch follows the law.  That he wrote.

Round and round we go…

We Came, We Saw, We Handed Out Flag Pins

OK, so I should mention the results of our Courage Campaign protest yesterday at the ABC/Disney headquarters.  It went really well.  Consider that I had this idea sitting on my couch at 12:00pm Thursday, and by 4:00pm Friday we had 60 or 70 people out there in Burbank.  Considering that in the current age there’s almost an allergy to protest, that’s not bad (especially in gridlocked L.A.), and we were able to get the word out without making one phone call.

I’ll give you the AP’s impression (over):

UPDATE: Here’s coverage from KTLA News:

About 50 people rallied at Disney Studios Friday to protest the questions that ABC News journalists asked the Democratic presidential candidates during a debate earlier this week.

Protestors waved signs that read “Restore the Fourth Estate” and “ABC is TMZ,” referring to the online celebrity site.

Organizer Rick Jacobs criticized ABC for focusing on the past gaffes of Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton, instead of issues like the war in Iraq and the American economy.

Jacobs said he was offended that Obama was asked why he hasn’t worn an American flag pin on his lapel.

“Patriotism isn’t defined by a flag pin made in China,” he said.

They didn’t note the most important part of the protest: our distribution of flag pins to employees as they left the ABC gates.  Letting them know that they were getting “free patriotism on a stick” and telling them that “Charlie Gibson won’t approve of you unless you wear one,” we handed out about 300 pins.  Most took them graciously and approvingly.

I’ll direct you to where there are a bunch of pictures and then highlight a few.

That’s me.

My personal favorite sign.

There goes a flag pin.

Breaking news.

Panama Jack Rick Jacobs.

Yes, the pins were made in China.

Also, we shot our own video, but I won’t have that available until Sunday.

Thanks to everyone who came out…