Around the Bay Area on Thursday, hundreds of students, teachers, parents and supporters held rallies and marches to protest budget cuts and mounting tuition costs, as well as police brutality during past Occupy and campus demonstrations.
Occupy Education, the Peralta Federation of Teachers, student groups and community organizations are protesting layoffs, union busting and a lack of democratic decision-making in schools and universities through student walkouts, marches, grade-ins and demonstrations.
In Oakland, several hundred people gathered at Frank H. Ogawa Plaza for the National Day of Action to Defend the Right to Public Education. They split into separate groups with about two dozen heading to Sacramento for a "99-Mile March to Occupy Education," with stops in San Pablo and Davis along the way, to the Capitol to demand federal funding for public education from preschool to graduate school.
About 50, mostly college students, went to Morgan Stanley to try to deliver petitions.
They chose Morgan Stanley because the Peralta Community College District pays between $1.4 and $1.6 million annually on an risky interest rate swap deal made before the recession began. Activists want the bank to renegotiate the deal. The annual interest payment could pay for student services and more classes, said Janell Hampton of the Peralta Federation of Teachers and a part-time instructor at Laney College, where she said students are having a hard time
"They're not giving us the same break they got from the federal government," she said, referring to Morgan Stanley, which received a $107 billion federal bailout package in 2008.
Rallies and marches in Oakland were peaceful, though police arrested two Laney College students. It was not immediately clear why they were arrested.
There were some problems in other parts of the Bay Area.
About a hundred UC Santa Cruz students blocked the entrance to the university campus Thursday morning, not allowing vehicles to enter as part of an Occupy Education rally. A motorist determined to pass through the student protesters struck at least one woman and a bike. No one was seriously injured.
At UC Berkeley, about 150 students and teachers gathered Sproul Plaza and hoisted up banners with slogans such as "Occupy Education" and "Classics for public education" and "Cops off our campus" as the rain poured down in the morning.
Police presence was minimal at the peaceful demonstration.
"When I talk about free public education it's not just free in terms of dollars, but teaching people how to live free and teaching creativity to make the world a better place," said Josh Healey, who said he is an arts educator and member of Occupy Oakland.
When the school bell rang at Berkeley High Thursday afternoon, between 600 and 1,000 headed off campus and joined the march to Ogawa Plaza in Oakland. Students also marched from Laney College in Oakland to the plaza.
San Jose State University students held a "Walkout! Reclaiming Our CSU" rally and march at noon. They were calling for more student and faculty input in decision making at the California State University level, fee rollbacks and support by CSU administration for state legislation that benefits students and teachers.
Staff writers Katy Murphy, Doug Oakley and the Santa Cruz Sentinel contributed to this report.