Capitol camp-in

Capitol Protest 1 2011:03.jpg

Protesters at the Capitol

The New York State Capitol was hopping last night.

While legislators worked late into the night to get budget bills passed, hundreds of students, teachers and other activists turned up to protest cuts in the proposed $132.5 billion state budget. [TU]

They planned strategy, gave testimony, marched and chanted their way up the Million Dollar Staircase to the Senate and Assembly chambers. There they camped out, told their stories to each other and chanted some more. Most of the folks we saw were protesting education cuts. There were also health care and housing advocates and public employees.

We were there around 8 pm and the halls outside the senate and assembly chambers were packed -- but the crowds seemed pretty peaceful. The galleries for both the Assembly and Senate had been closed to the protesters. Ron Canestrari said the protesters "threatened us" and could have disrupted the proceedings of both houses. It looks like there was only one arrest -- and it involved a cymbal. There was also some heated negotiation over pizza. [WXXI] [Buffalo News] [TU Capitol Confidential] [TU Capitol Confidential]

After the jump, a little more of what things looked like, and some video to help give you a sense of the protest.

Here's a little video of folks on their way to the assembly chamber:


Another group headed for the senate chamber:


And a third planning strategy:

And some photos of how things looked in the rest of the building

Apparently the pizza arrived before we did -- but the refreshments were still in the car:

paesans delivery.jpg

Student protesters making a plan:

Capitol Protest 2 2011:03.jpg

Capitol Protest 6 2011:03.jpg

Budget Twister 2.jpg

Budget Twister 3.jpg

Capitol Protest 5 2011:03.jpg

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Capitol Protest 4 2011:03.jpg

Capitol Protest 7 2011:03.jpg

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The protesters had to leave the Capitol in the early morning after the Assembly passed its budget bills -- some of them moved over to the ESP's concourse to spend the night. [Fox23] [CBS6]

Elsewhere: Patrick Dodson's posted good video from the protest over at KAB.

Comments

Not sure I agree with the sign in the lead photo! We don't typically have to pay to exercise our rights, and we all pay for education whether public or private. Therefore, education is, in effect, a privelege and is certainly not an inalienable right. Sometimes protestors jump right to bombast rather than thinking about the message.

I like seeing energetic, ordinary citizens of New York State expressing their political opinions at the state Capitol. They're acting in public and you know where they stand. It's a refreshing change from the business-suited lobbyists who ply their trade out of public view, representing only their wealthy patrons.

How do these kids parents think this is a good and acceptable way to spend a school night?

http://yfrog.com/h4y8srtj

What better way to spend a 'school night' than in acting directly to defend the quality and affordability of their education, in speaking with senators and working with other New Yorkers from all over the state, in witnessing firsthand the total lack of transparency and accountability of NY state governance? If these students grow up to be the state's next leaders, we'll all be better for it!

Jeff S., thanks for the pic. Sorry to disagree with JenG, but those kids don't look like they're learning any of those things. They look uncomfortable and bored, lying in the floor. Just sayin'.

On the other hand, buying your kid a ticket to ride the tea party express isn't so educational, either:

http://www.life.com/image/98294087

@JT: "we all pay for education [...] Therefore, education is, in effect, a privilege". That's where you got it backward :) You shouldn't have to pay for education. No society has anything to gain with less educated people.

The wispy haired hipster in the lead photograph is 100% wrong. The Supreme Court has long held that education, on any level whether it be 1st grade or college, is not a fundamental right and is not constitutionally protected. You are not entitled to higher education and you certainly are not entitled to tuition assistance. Unfortunately, most of the uneducated and unrealistic opinions of these protesters simply are not reality. A little research on how the real world and Constitution work would go a long way before you start screaming unintelligible rhetoric.

A little research on the constitutionality and education, at least in New York State, reveals:

New York State Constitution, Article XI, Section 1 -- "The legislature shall provide for the maintenance and support of a system of free common schools, wherein all the children of this state may be educated."

@Capitol Esq: ZOMG, the Supreme Court said so, then it must be right, I'm shaking in my boots! Is the concept of "protesting" that complicated to grasp? It is *meant* to question laws and rules that are seen as immutable. The "real world" you seem to refer to is small and frozen, with you at the center. Laws change, what is true now wasn't true then and might not be true in the future. You don't even need to time travel, mind you, one little step in a different country goes a long way.

@Bob: A requirement to provide does not create and inalienable right to access. Notice the use of "may" be educated rather than "shall". As I said, the gentleman's shirt is incorrect.

@-S: I won't bother with the "other country" comment. The "real world" I refer to are the families that pay sky high property taxes to offset the huge cost of education that egregious teacher unions have created. Unfortunately, some people don't "grasp" that these two issues are directly connected. Laws do frequently change and that is why this budget is a step in the right direction. Would you continue to pump water into a pool full of holes, or would you cut off the water, plug the holes and address the real problem? Protesting is fantastic, especially when it is accompanied by intelligent dialogue. Educating our children is paramount in a successful society. However, it is time to cut the waste and inefficiency of our education system so the grandparents of those children are no longer forced out of their homes because of property taxes.

This is what happens when we hire people to manage the budget instead of run the government and abolish poverty.
I recognize the argument that maybe it isn't the government's job to abolish poverty, but whose is it? If they're not up to the task, society has to come up with something that will.

http://slowlorisfamily.blogspot.com/2011/03/albany-capitol-p
rotests.html

@Capitol Esq: you should have bothered with my comment, because as far as you are concerned, that's all there is to it, the buck apparently stopped at your property taxes, end of discussion, call the whaaaambulance. If you had looked outside your yard you would have realized that these kids and you have the *same* problem. Did you check where the money comes from in these countries where education is indeed a "right"? How much of the GDP is allocated to it? How much property taxes are involved in it? Surprise: it's low. You have every reason to be unhappy about the taxes, but you are very misguided to blame it on teachers and kids, you are looking in the wrong direction. So either use the voting booth to trigger a change, or, like this wispy haired hipster, why don't you protest about it? Maybe somebody else will join. And somebody else... etc. If 2011 is really about something, that would be protesting. But dissing kids actually voicing their issues is much easier, right?

C'mon! Sleeping in the Capitol, its like staying over nite at the Met, or some other forbidden place. Even if those kids are bored and restless in the New York State Capitol, better that than catatonic in front of video games and television. We will need this generation to fight for democracy.

Damn, so many fine folks drinking the kool aid about students, teachers and schools causing the financial pinch in this state. I agree with S: everyone needs to look outside their own yard. This is a GLOBAL crisis of epic proportions, manufactured LARGELY by the unethical practices of corporations and financiers. Why is it so easy for everyone to demand money back from kids and teachers, instead of from General Electric, our good neighbor slightly north who paid NO TAXES in 2010.

Because its easier to confront the vulnerable and already strapped than speak truth to power.

Peace.

@-S: You lost me at the third "a" in whaaaambulance, but I'll continue regardless. First, I never blamed kids for this problem. I did however blame the teacher's unions and most of the teachers who continue to rally for higher education spending to fuel their raises, paid vacations and already bloated pensions. Second, you bring up the point of low GDP and foreign property taxes that fuel education systems abroad. That is precisely my argument! These foreign systems must be effective and efficient if they require relatively low funding. It's not how much money you pump into the system, it's how the system uses the money and resources it has. It should be a non-contentious point that our school systems use too much money to produce sub-standard results. The reductions in this budget will hopefully force teachers, unions and school districts to do more with less. No one wants to see elementary schools close because funding has dried up, however, we all need to see schools use the money they are given in a smarter more impactful way. Senior citizens on fixed incomes are being forced from homes that they lived in for decades because of sky high taxes; young educated adults are presented the seemingly insurmountable task of some day affording a home and it's taxes; meanwhile teacher union leaders are receiving nearly double digit percentage pay raises annually. And why are we comparing our policies to that of other countries? We would be better suited comparing ourselves to other states that operate under the same government that we do. Sure the education system in Bangladesh may be outstanding, but do you want to live there?
And as for the kid in the picture; his sign is still incorrect.

Capiol Esq., I realize that you're simply misinformed, but the end result of arguments like yours is that social mobility is largely only available for those who are born into the means to afford it. I'm not sure if you'd be proud to live in the society resulting from that system but I wouldn't.

I don't think what you're saying is very far from what -S is really, you just need to get a grasp on the facts. You are angry over the public costs you are paying. You see some people who think that certain public costs should be paid as a right. The mistake you are making is assuming that these are one and the same costs. I don't think you're entirely wrong that efficiencies could be had, but in short, you're kvetching up the wrong tree.

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