L.A. Teachers Unions "State of Emergency" Rally - Los Angeles, CA 5/13/2011
If you haven’t heard the news, California is broke. The 2011-2012 budget deficit is over $25 billion dollars. And when you add to that the "time-bomb" of unfunded public employees pension debt of more than $500 billion, you can see that this state is in deep trouble. So when I heard that teachers in California had declared a "State of Emergency" I decided to attend their Downtown rally on Friday, May 13th. The demonstration was sponsored by the California Teachers Association (CTA), the United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA) and the California Federation of Teachers (AFL-CIO).
Now maybe I’ve spent too much time at Leftist demonstrations, but the first thing I noticed was the profusion of people in red shirts.
The Los Angeles Unified School District let students out of class early so that they, and their teachers, could attend the demonstration. The first thing I saw when I walked onto the plaza was a couple of teachers (at least I assume they were teachers) arriving with a group of students. They quickly began leading them in protest chants, both in Spanish and in English.
I assume they were teachers because they showed up with the students, they were wearing UTLA buttons and shirts and the students were obeying their every word.
In the following video you can see a teacher leading the young students in a protest chant…
And then, while one teacher talked with a reporter, the other marched the chanting students around the plaza.
Before long more groups of students arrived, led by adults - presumably teachers - who also began leading the students as they chanted slogans.
In the following video you can hear students instructed by an adult (she’s the gray-haired woman on the right wearing a brown shirt with a star on it) chanting, "Student Power! Student Power!"…
Soon the plaza was filled with thousands of teachers, most wearing red t-shirts.
If you’re prone to suspect that our public schools are run by teachers and administrators whose political views fall almost exclusively on the left side of the political spectrum, this rally would only confirm your worst suspicions.
The messages printed on the official UTLA t-shirts made no attempt to mask the leftist agenda of the union, and of the teachers wearing them.
And the fact that there were actual communists at the rally handing out socialist newspapers and offering revolutionary literature did nothing to dispel the feeling that this was very much a left-wing protest.
The kids loved the free stickers.
A reoccurring theme among the various speakers on stage, as well as on the signs and placards carried by the union members and their supporters, was that "corporate greed" was responsible for California’s budget deficit.
In the following video you can hear a woman on stage complaining about "corporate greed" and then leading the teachers in chanting, "No Justice, No Peace!"
The message was that there is no shortage of money in California, it’s just that the "corporations" and "the rich" have it all, instead of the government and the unions.
Pre-printed signs that said "Tax Corporations to Fund Education" were everywhere.
And of course, "Tax the Rich" as well…
It seemed to not occur to anyone that there is a point of taxation where corporations and the "the rich" will simply leave California for another state. In fact, California is already one of the highest taxed states in the country, and Los Angeles is the highest taxed city in the state.
And although this rally was a protest against proposed budget cuts in Sacramento, many of the demonstrators carried signs aimed at Washington D.C.
And so I walked around Pershing Square looking at the people and the signs and banners they carried.
Just before I headed back to the subway station I stopped and listened to a young female high school student screaming into a microphone on the stage, "What Do We Want? Education! When Do We Want It? NOW!!!" She repeated it over and over. I reached for my camera, but by the time I had switched it to ‘video mode’ and started filming, she was finished. Instead I captured the next speaker, a young female student who, while mispronouncing every other word, screamed, "Where are my teachers? Where are my counselors? Where is my psychologist?!!!"
I headed back to the Metro station satisfied that the money my wife and I are spending to send our daughter to Catholic School is money well spent, but with a bleak feeling for the future of California.
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