6:56 PM: Thousands of people gathered in San Francisco’s Civic Center Plaza this evening for the Bay Area’s largest event of today’s “Day of Action” against cuts to California’s public education system.
Students, teachers and other school staff and supporters were estimated to have gathered for an event called the “Rally for California’s Future.”
The rally featured no elected officials as speakers. Instead, organizers gave the microphone to students, teachers, parents and other education supporters who spoke on a stage in the middle of the plaza.
One of the speakers was Ryan Vanderpool, a student at City College of San Francisco, who said “our education and our children’s education is being whittled away” by legislators, and that providers and recipients of public education are starting to “recognize we’re all in the same boat together.”
People traveled to the rally from throughout the Bay Area. Marisa Jimison, a student at Chabot College in Hayward, said she came to protest the “unfair and unjust” cuts to her school.
Jimison, who is studying to become a teacher, said the cuts, particularly to community colleges, are unfairly discriminating against low-income and minority students.
“Where are the low-income people from first-generation families supposed to go?” she said. “It’s not right to discriminate against people of poverty, minorities and women, and these are who it’s affecting the most.”
Parents of students also came to support the rally. Paul Hibser, a San Francisco man who has students in kindergarten and third grade at Rooftop Elementary School near Twin Peaks, said cuts will likely lead to larger classes, or classes combining grades, at the school next year.
Hibser said he was “supporting the teachers, and trying to make sure politicians put the money in the right place.”
While many people gathered in the plaza, others gathered on the steps of City Hall and on Carlton B. Goodlett Place, which was closed due to the crowd.
The group on the steps of City Hall included students from San Francisco State University’s creative arts department who created giant paper mache puppets, one of which was a skeleton that said, “Still paying my student loans.”
Along with the street closure in front of City Hall, traffic was slow around the Civic Center area during the event because of the amount of pedestrians coming to and from the plaza.
The rally at Civic Center was hosted by United Educators of San Francisco, the San Francisco Community College District Federation of Teachers, the San Francisco and East Bay chapters of the California Faculty Association, the Peralta Federation of Teachers, the NoEdCuts Coalition, and the San Francisco Labor Council, along with more than a dozen regional student and labor groups.
The rally was scheduled to end at 7 p.m.
San Francisco police spokesman Boaz Mariles said at about 6:45 p.m. no arrests had been made in connection with the demonstration. He said a group of protesters were walking down Market Street and that police were making diversions if necessary.
5:22 PM:The largest Bay Area event of today’s “Day of Action” has kicked off with thousands of people this evening gathering at San Francisco’s Civic Center to protest cuts to California’s public education system.
The rally has brought many students, teachers, and other school staff and supporters who also participated in various other rallies in the city and elsewhere in the region earlier today.
The event, which is expected to bring an estimated 10,000 people, is scheduled to end at 7 p.m.
By 5 p.m., thousands of attendees were rallying as they listened to the music of the Angry Tired Teachers, a rock band made up of teachers from around the Bay Area. No streets were closed, but traffic in the area is expected to be impacted throughout the event.
4:17 PM: Protesters have left San Francisco State University after picketing on campus earlier today and are headed to the city’s Mission District and then to a large rally at Civic Center Plaza, a university spokeswoman said.
Shortly after 3 p.m., hundreds of people were gathered at the intersection of 24th and Mission streets, blocking traffic, said Gloria Tineda, a dental assistant at Smile Center, a dentist’s office on Mission Street.
The march has started moving down Mission Street toward City Hall.
San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency spokesman Judson True said some Muni buses are being rerouted around Mission Street.
Hundreds of students, faculty and staff participated in the protest at SFSU, part of a “Day of Action” against cuts to California’s public education system. University spokeswoman Ellen Griffin said the event was very “peaceful, orderly, and respectful of one another.”
Phil Klasky, an ethnic studies lecturer at SFSU who is a member of the California Faculty Association, agreed, saying “it was really a wonderful, well attended event, with unity between students, faculty and staff.”
Klasky said about 200 people participated in informational picket lines this morning outside the administration and ethnic studies buildings on campus, and then more than 500 people gathered at Malcolm X Plaza for a noontime rally.
The rally included a performance involving large paper mache puppets, as well as speeches by students, faculty and lecturers, and spoken word, poetry, and musical performances about the budget cuts, he said.
The various events on campus went off largely without incident, besides at least one fire alarm that was pulled in a building on campus, Griffin said.
Many of the students have since left campus and headed to a rally at 24th and Mission streets that will be followed by a march to a large rally at Civic Center Plaza that could be attended by more than 5,000 people.
Klasky said shortly before 4 p.m. that he was at Civic Center Plaza and preparing for the rally there that is expected to feature more than 30 speakers and performers from schools and universities that will call on state legislators to restore funding to public education.