Protest Turns to Ruckus at CSU Chancellor's Office; Hubbub Spills Over to OLB Encampment
Protesters break the front door of the CSU Office of the Chancellor. Photo credit.
8:00am | A protest organized by the ReFund California Coalition in response to (according to the group's Website) "[the] 200% increase in tuition for UC, CSU, and community college students since 2008, and now the looming $2.5 billion in additional cuts to education and public services, students, workers, and educators" became a full-blown ruckus earlier this afternoon, as protestors ejected from the CSU Board of Trustees meeting clash with police outside the Chancellor's office, resulting in at least one broken glass door, police use of pepper spray, and one officer being injured, needing medical attention, according to CSU spokesperson Liz Chapin.
Many of the roughly 300 protestors eventually migrated to the Occupy Long Beach encampment at the corner of Pacific Avenue and Ocean Boulevard, where well over a dozen Long Beach Police Department officers monitored the scene, along with a police helicopter circling overhead.
Chief McDonnell, who also arrived at the scene, told the Long Beach Post that the police presence at the encampment was related to the ruckus at the Chancellor's Office and not to Occupy Long Beach.
However, some OLBers were involved in the earlier protest. And as is clear from the words of Jono Shaffer, a ReFund California Coalition spokesperson, the protests relate to the same overarching issues.
"Our original plan was to protest there and then march over here to Wells Fargo Tower, a symbolic home of one of the big Wall Street banks that crashed the economy," said Shaffer. "The reality is that students didn't crash the economy, the taxpayers of California didn't crash this economy; one group of individuals and entities is responsible, and it's the Wall Street banks. Nobody even disputes that. And yet, they keep letting them off the hook and forcing everybody else to pay. And that's just not sustainable. It's not a sustainable solution for an economy that's in trouble."
Shaffer said that several weeks ago the group had sent the CSU Board of Trustees a letter encouraging them "to adopt a pledge to fight for fair funding for public education by taxing the wealthy and closing the loopholes on big corporations, … to work with us to achieve that." Because the group received no reply, they chartered several buses to bring in participants "from all over the Southland: Irvine, San Diego, Riverside, UCLA, Occupy L.A., Occupy Long Beach … to influence them to vote [a proposed 9 percent tuition increase] down. Unfortunately, they chose to side with the 1 percent and not the 99 [percent]."
Shaffer said that while emotions were very high on the protestors' side, police "escalated the situation. They could have deescalated it."
OLBers Jonathan Allen reports being pepper-sprayed by an Officer Vargas, and video shot by CSU Long Beach's Daily 49er clearly shows police using pepper spray on the crowd.