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The Starting Point for Commentary and Coverage of California Politics

California Capitol Under Siege

Enormous rally staged to protest education cuts has law enforcement edgy.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    It's loud and noisy in downtown Sacramento. And it's getting ugly. .

    An estimated 200 protesters staked out a spot Monday afternoon inside the Capitol rotunda, chanting and marching. They're being watched closely by CHP, who shut down access to that part of the building. Security has also decided to shut down the Capitol at 5pm, an hour earlier than usual.

    It began with university students staging an extremely large protest rally at California's Capitol today, but the event was hijacked by Occupy groups who appear to be forcing a confrontation that will result in arrests..

    Student associations from the University of California, the California State University, and the community colleges staged today's march to express collective anger with recent increases in student fees, and budget cutbacks that have reduced class offerings and made it more difficult to graduate on time.

    "You'll hear us out or we'll vote you out," protesters chanted on the Capitol's west steps.

    Assembly Speaker John Perez, who helped broker recent budgets that included deep cuts, was among those calling for higher taxes today at the rally.

    Early projections were for a crowd of at least 10,000. There's no lockdown, technically speaking.  But the gathering is so large that access to the Capitol itself has been limited to certain doors.  And nearby office buildings have their doors locked.

    There's a heavy police presence, in part due to last week's clash between Occupy Oakland protesters and law enforcement following another rally.

    Occupy groups and another group called Refund are behind today's occupation. They're making demands ranging from an end to capitalism to getting of Gov. Jerry Brown's tax proposal.

    The Refund group is backing the so-called Millionaire's Tax being pushed by the California Federation of Teachers for the November ballot.

    In the past, the CHP has arrested demonstrators on trespassing charges who refuse to leave the building by the close of business.

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