Thousands of people gathered in San Francisco's Civic Center Plaza this evening for the Bay Area's largest event of today's "Day of Action" against cuts to California's public education system.
Students, teachers and other school staff and supporters were estimated to have gathered for an event called the "Rally for California's Future."
The rally featured no elected officials as speakers. Instead, organizers gave the microphone to students, teachers, parents and other education supporters who spoke on a stage in the middle of the plaza.
One of the speakers was Ryan Vanderpool, a student at City College of San Francisco, who said "our education and our children's education is being whittled away" by legislators, and that providers and recipients of public education are starting to "recognize we're all in the same boat together."
People traveled to the rally from throughout the Bay Area. Marisa Jimison, a student at Chabot College in Hayward, said she came to protest the "unfair and unjust" cuts to her school.
Jimison, who is studying to become a teacher, said the cuts, particularly to community colleges, are unfairly discriminating against low-income and minority students.
"Where are the low-income people from first-generation families supposed to go?" she said. "It's not right to discriminate against people of poverty, minorities and women, and these are who it's affecting the most."
Parents of students also came to support the rally. Paul Hibser, a San Francisco man who has students in kindergarten and third grade at Rooftop Elementary School near Twin Peaks, said cuts will likely lead to larger classes, or classes combining grades, at the school next year.
Hibser said he was "supporting the teachers, and trying to make sure politicians put the money in the right place."
While many people gathered in the plaza, others gathered on the steps of City Hall and on Carlton B. Goodlett Place, which was closed due to the crowd.
The group on the steps of City Hall included students from San Francisco State University's creative arts department who created giant paper mache puppets, one of which was a skeleton that said, "Still paying my student loans."
Along with the street closure in front of City Hall, traffic was slow around the Civic Center area during the event because of the amount of pedestrians coming to and from the plaza.
The rally at Civic Center was hosted by United Educators of San Francisco, the San Francisco Community College District Federation of Teachers, the San Francisco and East Bay chapters of the California Faculty Association, the Peralta Federation of Teachers, the NoEdCuts Coalition, and the San Francisco Labor Council, along with more than a dozen regional student and labor groups.
The rally was scheduled to end at 7 p.m.
San Francisco police spokesman Boaz Mariles said at about 6:45 p.m. no arrests had been made in connection with the demonstration. He said a group of protesters were walking down Market Street and that police were making diversions if necessary.