Updated at the bottom: Arrests in Westwood and now the occupation of a Bank of America downtown. First posted at 12:09 p.m.
Following Bank Transfer Day, a movement that started here in L.A., local college students will march on banks today to protest higher education cuts and a free tax lunch for Wall Street and Big Finance.
The event organized by a group called Refund California and said to include Occupy LA and UCLA students will take place in the downtown Financial District at 4:30 p.m., according to a press release.
Here's part of the Refund organization's statement:
Make the big banks, corporations and millionaires in our state pay their fair share. We didn't cause the economic crisis–they did. It's time for them to take responsibility and pay their share–to stop cuts to higher education, restore needed state revenue and improve the economy for all Californians. That's why we asking the 50 corporate elite that sit on the boards of California's public colleges and universities to sign the ReFund California pledge to make Wall Street pay for refunding public education.
We surely understand Occupy's problem with Wall Street and the bailed-out big banks that got us into the Great Recession via greedy home loans and derivatives.
But connecting the banks to California's higher education cuts is a stretch (protesters should look closer to home at things like prison spending and Prop. 13 limits on business property taxes).
There's no way the big banks are going to bow down and say, Oh yeah, UCLA's tripling of fees in the last 10 years is our problem, we'll pitch in.
Still, organizers expect 2,000 people to show up at California Plaza (350 S. Grand Ave.) for the festivities:
… The demands include raising income taxes on California's wealthiest, which would generate needed revenue for public services and education, and the reduction of underwater mortgage debt, which would put more money in the pockets of middle class families.
[Update]: UCLA reports that about a dozen protesters blocking traffic at Wilshire and Westwood boulevards as part of the statewide anti-bank, anti-tuition-hike demonstrations were arrested this afternoon. UCLA:
The protesters who sat in the intersection were expressing concern about income inequities, the role of banks and the future of public education, among other issues. They were believed to include union members, students and others.
Another 100 protesters gathered on campus.
[Added]: City News Service reports the exact number of arrests was 11:
The Westwood march began at UCLA's Bruin Plaza, with participants marching to a Bank of America branch. The group then moved to the intersection of Wilshire and Westwood shortly after 1:30 p.m. While many of the participants stood on the sidewalks, 11 people walked into the middle of the intersection and sat in a circle. One person was seen doing cartwheels around the circle.
[Update No. 2]: Around 5 p.m. we started seeing reports from the SEIU Local 721 that protesters successfully made it inside a Financial District Bank of America. One woman even camped out in a tent. No word if any arrests were made. The LAPD wasn't sure when we called. It wouldn't be the first time B of A in the Financial District has been occupied.
[Added]: City News Service says the number of protesters at the B of A in California Plaza on Grand Avenue number in the “hundreds.”
They did this once before.
[Update No. 3]: At about 5:44 p.m. ABC7 reported that protesters were marching away from the bank “with police escort.”