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Bay Area Students Protest Prison Spending

About 2,500 high school students from throughout the San Francisco Bay Area left class on Thursday, October 1, 1998 to attend a rally. They converged on a Bayfair train station in San Leandro. From there, protesters marched to an Alameda County Sheriff's Department substation chanting, "Education, not incarceration."

Prison rights activist Angela Davis followed the marchers in her car. She said she would have walked with them if she had not injured her leg earlier.

"It was absolutely amazing to see so many young people it was really inspiring," said Davis. "If they don't leave their classrooms for dramatic demonstrations like this, they may not have classrooms."

Ms. Davis helped organize the Critical Resistance conference at UCal Berkeley the weekend before the student march. [See cover story, this issue.] According to a report released there by the Justice Policy Institute, California's higher-education budget shrank by 3 percent over the last decade while spending on prisons jumped 60 percent.

"They're just trying to keep us in jail," said student protester, Ivan Garcia. "They aren't trying to say, you know, 'Go to college.'"

An article in the next day's San Francisco Chronicle reported, "Some school administrators and police officers were supportive of yesterday's outpouring of student activism."

"The students are right to be outraged," said Dan Kelly, vice president of the San Francisco Board of Education. "If we don't give the kids the service in school, we'll have to give it to them in prison later."

San Francisco Chronicle, NY Times

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