Occupy Monterey regroups after encampment for more focused protests.
Thursday, March 8, 2012
About 150 students, faculty and community members carved figure-eights across CSU Monterey Bay’s campus on a drizzly afternoon as they chanted, “Banks got bailed out, we got sold out.”
“CSU is being run more and more like a Wall Street business,” says Michael Frederiksen, a senior studying social and behavioral sciences.
“We are sick of hearing the system does not have money,” Erika Rodriguez, a junior in communications, told the crowd. “We believe education should be free.”
Organized by Students for Quality Education as part of a March 1 day of action on CSU campuses statewide, protesters channeled the rhetoric of the Occupy Wall Street movement. They’ve been objecting to tuition hikes and administrative expenses for years, but are newly allied with Occupy Monterey, which is undergoing a reformation of its own.
After their Veteran’s Park camp disbanded Jan. 23, the Monterey movement went through what Derek Bausek, a CSUMB communications major who camped there, calls a “hibernation period.”
Now, occupiers are engaging in a series of targeted actions. “I always expected Occupy to grow out of the encampment phase,” he says. “Now it can evolve to the next step.”
So far that means targeting businesses: The Carmel Pine Cone, on Feb. 27, because of an editorial claiming there is no proof hunger exists in Monterey County; and Century Aluminum on Feb. 29.
Century has 1,300 employees in Iceland, West Virginia, Kentucky and South Carolina. West Virginia retirees won a benefits’ battle just hours after occupiers picketed the company’s Monterey headquarters. The timing was incidental, Century spokeswoman Lindsey Berryhill says, but the message was heard.
“We appreciate and obviously understand their support of the retirees,” she says. “I think the Occupy movement has more pull if there’s a specific ask, rather than just protesting Wall Street.”
Occupiers plan to protest at Monsanto subsidiary Seminis Seeds in Salinas on March 16.