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Dozens of March 4th arrestees sentenced to time served; Next court date May 11th 9am
by m
Tuesday May 4th, 2010 1:24 PM
Dozens of protesters sentenced today to credit for time served for minor traffic infraction after Alameda County DA Nancy O'Malley shamelessly prosecutes students, teachers, parents and supporters who marched in Oakland on the March 4th Strike and Day of Action in Defense of Public Education.
Around 100 protesters arrested two months ago for protesting public education cuts in California had a court appearance today in downtown Oakland, where most were sentenced to what amounts to a “slap on the wrist.”

In a deal negotiated by attorneys with the National Lawyers Guild, dozens of arrestees charged with various traffic infractions pled “no contest” to California vehicle code 21956(a) (“no pedestrian may walk upon any roadway outside of a business or residence district otherwise than close to his or her left-hand edge of the roadway”), and received credit for time served.

A smaller number of protesters charged with misdemeanors will appear again in court next Tuesday, May 11th at 9 a.m., and are expected to have their charges reduced to the same infraction, along with a sentence of 17 hours of community service to be performed in the city of Oakland. Charges were dismissed outright for a number of other arrestees.

On March 4th, 2010, thousands of students, teachers and supporters marched down Telegraph Avenue from Berkeley and from Laney College and other local schools and converged in front of Oakland City Hall to denounce budget cuts, lost jobs and fee hikes as part of a nationwide “Strike and Day of Action in Defense of Public Education.”

Several hundred protesters continued marching through downtown Oakland, past the University of California headquarters and onto the I-880 freeway during rush hour, raising the profile and the stakes in the movement to “save our schools.” Swinging batons and in one case breaking a protester's arm, police violently rounded up the protesters before locking them up in jail overnight.

Speaking today in court, those arrested stated that they were “pleading” on behalf of janitors and other workers who have faced unpaid furloughs, single mothers who could no longer afford a higher education, and grade school students facing ever-increasing class sizes and shuttered athletic programs and libraries.

Although hundreds of students around the state who have taken action face suspension, fines, and other academic sanctions, the movement to defend public education continues to build momentum, with a one-day teacher's strike in Oakland last week and another protest planned for UC Berkeley this week.