Thousands of students converged on Sacramento, Calif., on March 5 to protest budget cuts and fee hikes for higher education. (Randy Pench/Sacramento Bee/MCT)

California Highway Patrol officers arrested dozens of protesters who refused to leave the state Capitol March 5 after repeated warnings, capping a day of protests over cuts to higher education that saw thousands of students and other higher-education stakeholders descend upon Sacramento.

The CHP said 68 people were arrested Monday evening and four earlier in the day. The protesters who were arrested for refusing to leave will be charged with trespassing, CHP Capt. Andy Manard said.

Police started pulling out protesters who remained in the Capitol rotunda around 7:30 p.m., more than an hour after they began warning them with a bullhorn to leave. Protesters chanted “We’re doing this for your kids,” as they were lifted by the arms one by one, handcuffed with plastic ties, and led away.

“We gave them about seven or eight opportunities to avoid arrest,” Manard said. “We wanted to give them every opportunity to leave. Having that many arrests puts a stress on the jails, too.”

He said the protesters would be taken to the Sacramento County Jail.

Those arrested were part of a boisterous daylong protest over state budget cuts to higher education that have led to steep tuition increases and fewer courses at California’s public universities and colleges. Thousands swarmed the Capitol lawn, waving signs and chanting, “They say cut back, we say fight back.”

Democratic lawmakers addressed the group and lamented the deep cuts to higher education they have made in recent years.

“We were expecting to have a good future, but things are looking uncertain for a lot of families,” said Alison Her, 19, a nursing student at California State University, Fresno. “I’m the oldest in my family, and I want my siblings to be able to go to college, too.”

Organizers had hoped that 10,000 protesters would demonstrate against rising tuition rates and demand that state lawmakers restore funding for higher education. But the actual turnout fell short.

After the rally, hundreds of students lined up to enter the Capitol and filled conference rooms and hallways inside. Some met with lawmakers to lobby for increased funding for higher education, while others headed for the rotunda.


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