Monday, May 9, 2011

Obedience For Justice

I arrived at the CA state capital today to find around 5-6 teachers in the rotunda with as many journalists and twice as many cops. The cops wouldn't let any more teachers join them and no one tried. The funny thing is that the rotunda is a meaningless piece of real estate. It was as if the cops were told to make a stand at the rotunda and they did.

Teachers tried several times and eventually occupied the third floor of the rotunda and sang We Shall Overcome until the CTA kicked them out. There were plenty of teachers and UC students present who were willing to take a stand and risk arrest (at least they admitted as much to me in private interviews). However, when CTA said they'd lose their permit, everyone filed dutifully out, with some threatening to return at 5, when the CTA permit runs out for the day.

This should not be at all surprising. First, CTA didn't intend for a real occupation, having rented hotel rooms for everyone. They also gave members a Code of Conduct which directs members to obey the cops, which essentially means no civil disobedience. Second, they organized teachers into small groups each with a list of lawmakers to lobby, which, if followed, would preclude both civil disobedience and any deviation from CTA's pathetic message. The day even began desperately with a "prayer for legislative courage." But where's the courage in begging a bunch of wealthy politicians to levy taxes on the poor and working class?

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