San Francisco police arrested an estimated 95 students, teaching assistants (TAs) and community organizers who shut down and occupied a Bank of America location in the San Francisco Financial District Wednesday. About 60 of the arrested were from UC Santa Cruz, while others were from UC Berkeley, UC Davis, San Francisco State, community colleges and local Occupy movements.
Three hundred protesters initially filled the bank lobby, standing on desks and even setting up a tent, forcing out employees and customers. The protesters chanted they were there to deliver a pledge to UC regent Monica Lozano, who serves on the Bank of America board, and asked her to support tax rises to the rich and refund social services.
“We could consider staying until Monica signs the pledge,” they chanted. “Sign the pledge, Monica.”
On the date of the UC regents’ cancelled meeting, around 150 UCSC undergraduate and graduate students filled several buses chartered by the TA union UAW Local 2865 to the city. Combined with other schools and organizations, the protesters reached around 600 in number and filled an entire block, not including the trailing police, as they marched from Justin Herman Plaza to the bank.
Bill Chorneau of the Oakland Alliance of California for Community Empowerment said the bank occupation was still going to take place after the regents meeting.
“I don’t expect us to get results today,” Chorneau said. “It’s going to be a long struggle, but as long as it keeps getting bigger and bigger, the 1 percent’s in trouble.”
San Francisco police spokesman Carlos Manfredi said the arrested would be taken to the county jail on charges of trespassing. While the police brandished batons as protesters pinned them outside the bank, no injuries were incurred. Police presented opportunities for occupiers to leave if they did not want to be arrested.
While seated on the floor, one protester found Lozano’s telephone number and called her. The protester announced Lozano’s secretary was trying to find Lozano, but the call eventually led nowhere. Another protester shared a haiku she created in honor of Lozano.
“We’re thinking of you,” she said. “Are you thinking of us too? Sign the fucking pledge.”
UCSC third-year Tyler Correa originally planned to attend the regents meeting, but still decided to take the bus to San Francisco after the meeting was canceled.
“Everyone needs to know they’re victims here,” Correa said. “Some people are upset but don’t have a face to be angry at.”
As they marched to Bank of America, the crowd drew the attention of businesspeople. Businesses like the Omni Hotel on California Street locked their doors, while their customers’ eyes were glued to the protesters.
Prior to the march, protesters gathered at Justin Herman Plaza and listened to speakers from the educational community.
Bob Meister, UCSC social sciences and political thought professor and president of the Council of UC Faculty Association supported the actions in response to the canceled meeting.
“Instead of making the argument [the regents] are working for Wall Street, we did the walk from the regents to the Financial District,” Meister said. “This is the connection that needed to be made.”