ReFund Education March Takes over Bank of America--UC Berkeley Students Participate, Tents Pitched

By Dan McMenamin (BCN)
Wednesday November 16, 2011 - 03:29:00 PM

Dozens of protesters have pitched a tent inside a Bank of America branch in downtown San Francisco this afternoon and are refusing to leave.

At about 2:15 p.m., at least 100 protesters rushed into the branch on California Street near Davis Street, taking it over. They stood inside the branch chanting, "We are the 99 percent."

University of California at Berkeley graduate student Elise Youn said one of the aims of the march is to "make the connection" between the business interests of certain UC Regents and their work on the board.

The marchers were focusing on three regents: Richard Blum, chair of Blum Capital Partners; George Marcus, who heads a national commercial real estate brokerage firm; and Monica Lozano, who is a Bank of America board member.  

At about 2:40 p.m., police ordered the protesters, some of whom had been standing on desks in the bank, to disperse. 

Police in riot gear scuffled with protesters, shoving them out of the way to access the building's doorway. Some people had been trying to exit the bank and others were blocking the officers' path as they tried to enter. 

Many of the protesters left the bank, but about 30 of them remained inside as of 3 p.m. and had erected a tent in the middle of the floor. 

Some wore bandanas and some were standing on desks.  

Hundreds of other protesters were sitting in the middle of Davis Street, which is shut down.  

Meanwhile, members of a 24-Hour Fitness across the street watched the activity from their treadmills. 

As of 3 p.m., no arrests had been made. A large crowd had gathered in front of the bank where protesters marched this afternoon to call for more funding for public education. 

The "ReFund Public Education March" was organized in part to protest the cancellation of the UC Board of Regents meeting in San Francisco this week.  

The meeting was cancelled because of fears that violent protests would occur, according to the regents. 

"The 1 percent on the Board of Regents cancelled their meeting because we demanded they do the people's business," read a statement posted on the Occupy SF website about the march. 

"So now we're going to where they do Wall Street's business," the statement read.  

The site states that there would be a noon gathering at Justin Herman Plaza and a 1 p.m. march on banks, followed by a 4 p.m. "People's Assembly for Public Education" at the State Building at 455 Golden Gate Ave. 

Around 1:30 p.m., the protesters sat down on Battery Street between Pacific Avenue and Broadway, blocking traffic. 

Some protesters chanted, "Education must be free. No cuts, no peace." Marchers included a number of students and members of public-sector unions. 

CONTACT: San Francisco police (415) 553-1651 

EDITORS PLEASE NOTE: Images related to this story can be obtained from the following Bay City News Service Web links: www.baycitynews.com/images/ProtestersInBank11.16.11.jpg www.baycitynews.com/images/ProtestersInBankII11.16.11.jpg 


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