Since August, students, teachers, and education workers have joined with community organizations, service unions, and homeowners in the ReFund California coalition.  This campaign to “make banks pay” has gained national attention and changed the politics and debate around who should pay for public education.  Links to news articles, online media and petitions are in the narrative below.

By the beginning of October, ReFund’s first week of action was already drawing support from occupations that had sprung up across the state in San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles, and numerous other cities, making common cause in their protests against banks and foreclosures. 

November kicked off when our coalition joined Oakland protesters in shutting down the port of Oakland, while bank transfer day saw as many as 600,000 accounts move from big banks to credit unions.  As a November 16th meeting of the Regents drew near, our movement organized direct actions across the state, pressuring the regents pledge their support for making banks and millionaires – including themselves – pay to refund California.  While hundreds shut down Wilshire and Westwoodthousands rallied at Sproul Hall at Cal and attempted to set up an occupation, ushering in the first instance in the wave of police violence that has continued across our campuses lately.  UC president Mark Yudof pledged to feebly request more state funds, without any plan with respect to where they would come from.

As tensions between Occupy Cal and the administration continued, violent crackdowns against occupations persisted.  Across the country, the message is clear: corralled and entrappedtear gassed and concussedbludgeoned and pepper sprayed – popular protest, unlike corporate political campaigning, must be strictly controlled.  Even linking arms, after all, is not non-violent, according to Berkeley Chancellor Mark Birgenau.

As a result of our movement’s efforts, the UC regents cancelled their meeting, in fear of alleged ‘rogue elements,’ and northern California students took to the streets in the San Francisco Financial District, protesting regents at their corporate offices, while students in the south of the state were arrested while trying to open up the CSU trustee’s meeting, which nonetheless voted to hike Cal State tuition by 9%, despite objections to the vote’s legitimacy.

On Thursday, November 17th, Berkeley students, unable to place tents on the ground, took their abodes to the skies, while students at Davis and UCLA set up occupations of their own.

While Santa Monica police came under cloak of night and arrested 14 UCLA students who refused to disperse from their tents, Davis students, after a full night’s sleep, confronted the UCPD in the afternoon, where a line of prostrate protestors was dusted repeatedly with pepper spray, as they non-violently demanded the release of the 5 students arbitrarily arrested for engaging in the Davis occupation.  Through the power of their presence and their voice, hundreds of UC Davis students then stood down and dispersed the dozens of riot cops who had come to stand down and disperse them.

As the regents scheduled a multi-location teleconference to approve expenditures without a reliable plan for revenues, thus locking in tuition hikes if (and when) state funding fails to arrive, Occupy UCLA briefly regrouped on Friday and pledged to reconvene on Monday, while Davis protesters gave a moving display of the power we all hold as students and as citizens as they silently confronted Chancellor Kartehi while she exited a closed press conference on the brutality of the day before.  President Yudof, however, continues to have full faith and confidence in the chancellors.

On Monday, November 21st5,000 students assembled on the Quad at UC Davis to protest the violent repression by the Chancellors and the 1% on the Boards of UC and CSU of our nonviolent mobilizations to make banks pay.  Students voted to strike on Monday, November 28th and join actions to open up the UC Regents sham teleconference that day for a discussion of how to make banks and millionaires pay.

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ABOUT US: ReFUND California is a coalition of organizations throughout California committed to exposing the unfairness of the state’s current economic reality and engaging in public campaigns to force the changes that are necessary.