Dueling protests threaten to occupy California’s Capitol

The California state capitol in Sacramento, California.
The California state capitol in Sacramento, California.
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California teachers plan to “take over” the state Capitol on Monday morning to protest cuts to education and other state services. While that’s happening, anti-war groups will hold a “Capitol occupation” to protest war spending.

Three hundred members of the California Teachers Association will hold daily sit-ins at the Capitol to protest deeper cuts to education, health, welfare and public safety because of California's $15.4 billion budget shortfall.

The association is pressing Gov. Jerry Brown to back off his call for a special election and instead push GOP lawmakers to directly approve an extension of higher sales, income and vehicle taxes. The teacher protestors will compete for attention with peace activist Cindy Sheehan, whose son Casey was killed fighting in Iraq.

"The problems of California can’t be isolated from the problems of the federal government," Sheehan said.

At a Sacramento news conference last week, Sheehan said the federal government has sucked more than a hundred billion dollars out of California’s economy to wage war in Afghanistan and Iraq. She wants Governor Brown to push President Obama to bring troops home. Sheehan says it’s a coincidence that her Peace of the Action group planned its “Capitol occupation” for the same week as the California Teachers Association’s “takeover.” But Sheehan says the peace activists are “in solidarity” with the teachers.

"Teachers and students shouldn’t have to pay the price for the horrible economy that’s a result of our war economy," she said.

Sheehan’s peace activists plan to hold sit-ins, along with “die-ins” where protestors pretend to be casualties of war. They say they’ll pitch tents on the Capitol lawn, and stay as long as the protests last.

Union President David Sanchez says if the new taxes aren't approved, 21,000 teachers will lose their jobs next fall. They've already received pink slips.

Freeway billboards bearing the campaign's tagline, State of Emergency, are up throughout the state.

KPCC's Julie Small will be following this story on Monday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report