Posted on May 13, 2011 by the Website Workers Council
including top officials of the Peace and Freedom Party. (Photo credit: ABC News)
Members of the Peace and Freedom Party from Alameda County joined those from Sacramento to participate in a week of action and occupation called by the California Teachers' Association beginning May 9, 2011. We brought 100 signs that said "Tax the Rich and their Corporations." These were eagerly snatched up by rank and file teachers and college students, who did not agree with the CTA's focus on extending the regressive temporary taxes to keep the schools at their present miserable level of funding.
After a day of marching around the streets and an abortive sit-in at 3pm, the teachers and students entered to Capitol building at 5pm. When the majority of participants started a spirited chant of "Tax, tax, tax the rich, we can solve the deficit," The CTA leadership tried to convince the teachers to leave the building. Around 20 teachers, mostly from Oakland and San Francisco, including Oakland Education Association President Betty Olsen-Jones, remained.
Three Peace and Freedom Party State Central Committee members were among the steadfast. Marsha Feinland, who was arrested along with C. T. Weber and Daniel Frederick, gave the followining account.
"I was one of the 68 people arrested the evening of May 9, 2011 in the California State Capitol Rotunda. I am a retired California teacher and a member of the California Teachers' Association.
"We were not arrested for supporting the tax extensions to keep the k-12 schools afloat while all other public services are deeply cut. We were actively rallying to tax the rich and the corporations which contribute a far lower share of their income than do working class people. We were asking that all public services be restored.
"About one third of those arrested were k-12 teachers. A few more were college instructors and other public workers. Around half were college students who face steeply rising tuition and fees and drastic program cuts.
"The CTA advertised a week long “occupation” of the capitol in Sacramento. They had promised to call for progressive taxes on the wealth that exists in California to provide for all services as well as the immediate goal of extending the existing temporary taxes, which are regressive, to prevent further cuts to the k-12 schools. Many people, including teachers, came to Sacramento in hopes of forging alliances to address the needs of all Californians.
"At 5 PM on May 9, hundreds of people filled the Capitol rotunda and spilled out into the hallways. When students and teachers started chanting "tax the rich," the CTA leadership quietly asked their members to leave the building. Some teachers stayed to join the students and other workers. Together we sat down and were arrested. This was the real occupation of the capitol."