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Monday 'sit-in' protest planned for Capitol

May 6, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Protesters will soon be converging on the state Capitol, hoping to protect education funding and other programs from further budget cuts.

Starting Monday, the Capitol could get very crowded in the hallways and up in the gallery of each house.

The California Teachers Association is declaring a "state of emergency" with weeklong protests statewide, including a Wisconsin-style sit-in that could involve hundreds, each and every day at the Capitol.

The California Highway Patrol says the group's permit is only for the outside, but officers know of efforts to bring the protests inside, which will be seen as civil disobedience.

"First from a verbal, not necessarily have to give them a verbal, to a disperse order, to ultimately an arrest. There's different ways to resolve the situation," said CHP Sgt. Steven Stone.

The protest is over education funding and the push to extend temporary taxes to save schools from more budget cuts.

Ululani Cook, a concerned mother, agrees with the teachers' tactic, even if it results in arrests.

"By the teachers coming here and showing this support, then we want the legislators to also know that everybody is serious about saving education," said Cook.

Republicans say the sit-in shouldn't be directed at them. They would have gone along with the tax extensions had they gotten something in return.

"It would be unnecessary if the governor and legislative leaders had been willing to stand up to public employee unions and negotiate a budget that included pension reform and a spending cap," said Jann Taber, spokesperson for state Sen. Bob Dutton (R-Rancho Cucamonga).

Complicating matters is another group planning a different sit-in, although it's unclear how many will show up at that one.

Peace activist Cindy Sheehan and her group will also protest the governor's budget proposal, which she says is unfair to vulnerable Californians.

"I'm willing to be arrested. Yes, if that's what it's going to take. I've never been arrested in California before. It'll be a new experience," said Sheehan.

Sacramento County Main Jail has already been given a heads up of a possible influx of arrests.