Subject: [SocialistWorker.org] A May Day "funeral" in Long Beach
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======== A MAY DAY "FUNERAL" IN LONG BEACH ===================================
May 10, 2012
TONY, A California State University (CSU) Dominguez student, didn't let the
constant presence of Long Beach Police Department surveillance put a damper
on his May Day.
Tony, who marched along with more than 150 Occupy Long Beach participants and
allies, repeatedly waved and said, "Hi, mom!," towards a Long Beach Police
Department helicopter which followed the contingent throughout its march.
"What else can you do?" he asked while laughing. "It's ridiculous. You would
think we were trying to rob the Queen Mary or something. Whatever, I'm having
fun out here. We need to change this society."
Though Occupy Long Beach's march and rally was much smaller in size when
compared to its kin to the north in downtown Los Angeles, economic inequality
and immigrant rights were the main focus of its marches, mirroring LA's main
themes for the day.
Strategic stops along the march route in front of banks such as Citibank and
Wells Fargo led to familiar chants of "Banks got bailed out! We got sold
out!" The march also stopped outside of the city's Federal Building, which
houses the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office. After the march
concluded, a rally was held at City Hall. CSU Long Beach students who biked
over from campus and met up with Occupy protesters held signs challenging
rising tuition fees and less class offerings in the CSU system.
Meanwhile, across town, more than 150 Long Beach City College (LBCC) students
and faculty gathered at a "funeral" on campus. The mock "Death of Education"
rally was replete with pallbearers, black clothing, eulogies, tombstones and
a casket-led funeral procession.
The symbolic death was a tribute of sorts to the 55 classified staff laid off
the week prior by the college's Board of Trustees. The positions targeted
include instructional aides and custodians. The board also decided to ax
hours and pay for 96 other positions. Students at the rally also protested
the soon-to-be summer fee hike from $36 to $46 per unit.
Community colleges such as LBCC have seen their enrollment numbers swell
recently due to the continued rising costs of attending the state's public
Ironically, May Day wasn't just a day for fightbacks against austerity in
Long Beach. While Occupiers were still congregating downtown, the same day,
the Long Beach Unified Board of Education unanimously voted to end the
district's Head Start program. The program will end in the 2013-14 academic
year and save the district $225,000 annually, according to a /Press-Telegram/
Like their counterparts at LBCC, the Board of Education also took aim at
janitors. The body voted to "reassign" 22 lead custodians in the district to
The savage cuts being laid at the doorstep of the district's workers, parents
and students will continue. LBUSD officials claim they must cut an additional
$20 million from the district's $700 million budget to remain solvent.
Clearly, not everyone is buying in. Joe Boyd, executive director of the
Teachers Association of Long Beach, told the /Press-Telegram/ that LBUSD is
dropping Head Start as a ploy to justify further attacks against the union's
collective bargaining rights.
Last year, LBUSD teachers suffered 500 layoffs and endured five furlough
days. According to LBUSD officials, unless teachers agree to proposed caps
placed on district contributions to employee health care, more furloughs and
layoffs are on the way.
*Michael Brown*, Long Beach, Calif.
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