Monday, October 29, 2012

Fort Hernandez Update

Update 4:38p.m :#FortHernandez
Today is October 29, for Fort Hernandez it is day 65 since we decided to ignore the unjust eviction issued by Bank of America. This morning at approximately 9:30am the LAPD deployed 80-100 officers, completely blocking off Leadwell St. as well as Vista del Monte and Cedros St. They entered the area they had blocked off and ordered all of our neighbors not to come out of their homes. A few residents who were outside of the perimeter when it had been established were not allowed access to their own property. Media was also barred from entering. A supporter later informed us that they had told her that they were “running a tactical drill.” After the LAPD established this perimeter; 25 employees from Street Services began to tear down the barricade. A bulldozer was brought in to take the remnants of the barricade and put them into a dumpster as a helicopter flew overhead. One of our supporters, Amber Barrero was arrested during this process o
n an old warrant.
Earlier this month Javier and Ulises had been issued citations for the barricade and the couches set in front of it. However the court date to discuss these citations has not yet come. Furthermore the citation that was issued to Ulises was given when he was not even present and lacks a signature of an officer.
First and foremost today’s events are an obvious show of intimidation; the terrorist tactics used by the LAPD are a clear attempt to deter our neighbors from supporting us. Tearing down the barricade before the court ruled on when or if it had to be taken down is an obvious lack of accountability to the judicial process they are suppose to be a part of. It is also a violation of our first amendment rights. The barricade was always an artistic display of resistance and tossing it away also meant a loss of protest materials and the destruction of artwork that had been donated by children from our family and the community at large.
In a show of solidarity we ask any and all supporters to call the Van Nuys Police Station and demand the release of our supporter as well as answers to the excessive and irresponsible use of resources to terrorize our family and community.
or 818-374-9645 for the jail house

With faith and resolve that has not been shaken,
-La Familia Hernandez


Update:Our wall is gone but we are still here! We thank each and everyone of you reading this now.
Comrade Amber of Occupy San Fernando Valley, was arrested outside of the police line @#FortHernandez please call LAPD Van Nuys division at 818-374-9500 and ask for her release

100 Riot Police surround #FortHernandez, Occupiers in L.A. have been defending this home as well as #FortLucero for over 60 days now and the police have approached to issue a citation for "blocking a sidewalk". 

Alert: Cops in riot gear are in front of fort Hernandez 

  • Cops in riot gear are in front of fort Hernandez

    Shadow media is streaming live from Fort Hernandez. Cops are there with riot gear and all streets are closed

    Update from Fort Hernandez FB

    Please call and tell them to stop their attack on Fort Hernandez
    LAPD Van Nuys division at 818-374-9500

    Council Member Tony Cardenás' office in van nuys: 818) 778-4999 flood their lines....

#FortHernandez Day 64 - RAC Volunteers

via #Fort Hernandez

#FortHernandez Day 64 - RAC Volunteers

Revolutionary Autonomous Communities (RAC) feeds the people through a network of local donations every Sunday in MacArthur Park downtown.  We went there today to volunteer, helping the effort and networking with comrades in the fight for autonomy.  As trucks pulled up with produce we off-loaded the boxes.  Organic heirloom tomatoes, watermelons, butternut squash, avocados, kale, and grapes are just a few of the vegetables that were gifted to the community.

Gift boxes were laid out in rows and filled with an assortment of items.  Rice, beans and dry goods were separated into bags. Volunteers snacked on pineapple slices covered with chile pepper.  Tasty!

There were long spaces in between supply drop-offs.  We filled the time talking about the movement, sharing stories about happenings at the Fort and RAC.  RAC is a revolutionary federation of councils and liberated spaces based in occupied communities. They build self-sustainability and create the structure, strategy, and program for change through direct participatory forms of consensus. Their strategy for Decolonization, Land and Liberty includes outreach, popular and political education, direct action, community programs, empowerment, support, physical training and mutual aid, so people can build self reliance and gain the skills, resources and the experience to liberate themselves. They do what we're doing at Fort Hernandez. The exchange of information is just as nourishing as the food.

In the hot part of the day the women retired to the shade and held a women's circle.  Comprised of young and old, they held hands exchanged knowledge and wisdom, hugged, and prayed.  Beautiful and healing.  It felt like the heartbeat of the movement.

Around us the park was filled with people resting, playing soccer, making music.  We took naps too, waiting for more trucks to arrive.

After the last of the deliveries arrived, we passed out the food to the people.  RAC donated several boxes to Fort Hernandez, which we took back with us and will use in our kitchen.  Food is so much better when it has  love and solidarity in it.  Thank you RAC!  Another world is Possible!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

10/10 Rally to End All Hostilities in CA Prisons: Youth Stand in Solidarity

10/10 Rally to End All Hostilities in CA Prisons : Youth Stand in Solidarity

California Prisoners Make Historic Call to End Hostilities between Racial Groups in California Prisons & Jails!

Oakland- Prisoners in Pelican Bay State Prison's Security Housing Unit (SHU) have announced a push to end all hostilities between racial groups within California's prisons and jails. The handwritten announcement was sent to prison Advocacy organizations. It is signed by prisoners, identifying themselves as the PBSP-SHU Short Corridor Collective. Pelican Bay's SHU was the point of origin for last 
year's hunger strikes which rocked California's prison system, at one point including the participation or nearly 12,000 prisoners in over 11 prisons throughout the state.

The statement calls for the cessation of all hostilities between groups to commence October 10, 2012, in all California prisons and county jails. The PBSP-SHU Short Corridor Collective has strongly requested that its statement be read and referred as a whole. Its can be found here :

- On October 10th, the Youth Justice Coalition will be holding a rally to stand in solidarity with the Prisoners of CA.
We have the duty to fight for our brothers and sisters who remain inside the walls of injustice and confined to a system that does NOT work for our community!!

Please join the YJC and Community Advocacy groups and stand in solidarity with the CA prisoners and their efforts to end racial tension within the prison walls. Please contact us ASAP if you would like to Sponsor or Speak at the Rally/Press Conference.

Sponsoring Organizations:
1. Youth Justice Coalition (sponsor)
2. Fair Chance Project (sponsor)
3. LA Community Action Network (sponsor)
4. FACTS Families To Amend CA Three Strikes" (sponsor)
5. "CA Families to Abolish Solitary Confinement" CFASC (sponsor)
6. Homies Unidos (sponsor)
7. California Faith Action (sponsor)
8. Occupy The Hood LA (sponsor)
9. Immigrant Youth Coalition (sponsor)
10. Interfaith Communities United For Justice and Peace (ICUJP)-(sponsor)
11. Rise-Up LA (sponsor)
12. Coalition To Stop Sheriff Violence (sponsor)
13. Bus Riders Union (pending)
14. October 22 Coalition to Stop Police Brutality (pending)
15. Gender Justice LA (sponsor)
16. Yo Watts (sponsor)
17. Homeboy Industries (sponsor)
18. Anti-Recidivism Coalition (sponsor)
19. New Roads New Visions (sponsor)
20. Journey House (sponsor)

"If unity happens inside the walls of prison, imagine the impacts it will have on our neighborhoods and youth!" -Assata

Event Page Contact: Isaac Barrera . 3233315257 .

Organizations/Sponsors/Speakers/Outreach contact: Emilio Lacques (323)617-1751

Media Contact: Julio Marquez (323)392-3358

Fort Hernandez needs your Support!

ALERT! The Hernandez family was told by Bank of America that their loan modification was denied. The bank said they are going through with the EVICTION. We are preparing for a RAID on the Hernandez Home. We are requesting supporters to come to La Familia Hernandez...WE NEED EYES AND HEARS TO BE WITNESSES when the po
Call Bank of America to voice your disgust for their refusal to work with the Hernandez family to save their home. Call Debra Haber 1-877-471-4367 ex. 034581. Her supervisor Karen Arakelian 213-345-2684.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Tree Sitter protecting Peaks being extracted

Update @
‎1:11pm UPDATE: As of 5 minutes ago, both protesters u-locked to equipment have been extracted and are in custody. No further word on James' lifelines yet.
 12:28pm  Protect The Peaks
‎Extraction of the two protestors locked down to machinery about to begin. DPS and FPD threatening felony endangerment for extracting them during lightning storm. Gross abuse of power! COME SUPPORT, DONATE FOR BAIL, TAKE ACTION!

Tree Sitter protecting Peaks being extracted

Protect the Peaks say tree sitter's life in danger as life lines are being cut

By Brenda Norrell
Photos by Dawn Dyer
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – Protect the Peaks activists say a tree sitter’s life is in danger as police and equipment cutters are attempting to extract him from a tree, by cutting his life line anchors, today, Tuesday.
Two people have locked themselves to the Ponderosa Pine to protect the tree sitter. Their actions are to halt pipeline construction for the Arizona Snowbowl which plans to desecrate sacred San Francisco Peaks with sewage water to make snow for tourists.
Tree sitter James Kennedy said at 11:30 am, "Two supporters, Eric and Alex, have locked down on heavy construction equipment, where my lifeline is anchored. They did this after police and Snowbowl employees alongside Police Chief Treadway said they would attempt a dangerous relocation of my lifeline. I am not harnessed into the platform or tree. any movement will send me falling nearly 80 feet."
On Monday, Kennedy began the action “to protect our community and our children from the City of Flagstaff’s sanctioning and use of hazardous treated sewage, which contains antibiotic resistant genes, in our public spaces.”
The ropes securing the tree-sit stretch across the projected path of the City of Flagstaff’s and Arizona Snowbowl Ski Resort's treated sewage effluent pipeline, currently under construction on Mars Hill near Thorpe Park.
Kennedy, a student at Northern Arizona University, climbed into a large ponderosa pine tree early in the morning securing himself to pipeline trench digging equipment with a "lifeline" that, if moved, would threaten his life.
The Peaks are sacred to 13 area Indian Nations, including the Navajo Nation, Hopi, Havasupai, Hualapai and Zuni Pueblo, who are all struggling to defend the Peaks from desecration.
Protect the Peaks issued the following statements:

"Today was nothing short of amazing, I think we have sent a clear message on the urgency of protecting our communities and environment," stated James on Monday. "I am not sure how a city that sells millions of gallons of water to corporate interests will respond, but with so much recent research indicating the dangers of contact with wastewater, I am optimistic. I will be here until I see tangible results to the listed demands, however long it takes until this rigging is unsafe to use." James said.

According to the Arizona Daily Sun Lt. Lance Roberts, of Flagstaff Police Department stated on Monday, “We’re not going to go up there and get him at this time… We’re just going to let them do their thing and hopefully it won’t rain today.”

At approximately 3:00 PM five Fire Department officials arrived on the site. They carelessly ignored ground supporters who cautioned them not to touch a "lifeline" that connects the tree-sitter to a large machine used for digging pipeline trench.

Tree-sitter and ground crew need the continuous presence of supporters throughout the day and night to bare witness and ensure the safety of this peaceful act of resistance. People are welcome all day, please visit www.ProtectThePeaks.orgfor directions and for more ways to support.

We invite those of you who believe in the safety and health of our children, the sanctity of our environment, and the protection of public water to demand that:

- The City of Flagstaff rescind the wastewater contract with Snowbowl!
- An immediate moratorium on the City of Flagstaff's use of treated sewage effluent in public spaces where any person may come in contact with reclaimed wastewater, until new research and technology is available to mitigate long-term environmental & community health risks.
-The use of public water in this desert climate of Flagstaff with only a projected 25-38 years of water left for people’s consumption, should be cleaned and used for people to drink, not for a private corporation to make a profit.
-President Obama fulfill campaign promises to protect human rights and sacred sites.
Monday morning:
We erected a tree-sit to protect our community and our children from the City of Flagstaff’s sanctioning and use of hazardous treated sewage, which contains antibiotic resistant genes, in our public spaces. The ropes securing this tree-sit stretch across the projected path of the City of Flagstaff’s and Arizona Snowbowl Ski Resort's treated sewage effluent pipeline, currently under construction on Mars Hill near Thorpe Park.
After years of construction delays, court challenges, and resistance from community members, a 14-mile sewage pipeline that Snowbowl would like to see carrying millions of gallons of treated sewage effluent yearly from the City of Flagstaff to Snowbowl is near completion. Snowmaking is scheduled to begin at the end of November, when a combination of pharmaceutical, industrial, commercial, and household discharge will be sprayed from snow machines onto the San Francisco Peaks.
“If they choose to continue construction, they must publicly account for my life among the diversity of human and non-human beings their ecocide threatens.” said James Kennedy, the NAU student who currently sits atop the more than 75ft tall ponderosa pine tree. “For the purity of our water, for the safety of our community, and for the health of a fragile alpine ecosystem, we must halt this pipeline!”
Xander Vautrin, an on the ground supporter of the tree-sit believes “The City of Flagstaff, the Forest Service, and the Snowbowl Corporation are recklessly disregarding the safety of the greater public, of wildlife, our water and our environment by refusing to consider the long-term impact of exposure to wastewater.
Recently published research conducted on treated sewage effluent in Flagstaff has found antibiotic resistant bacteria after completion of the treatment process. Though reduced by treatment, the bacteria “dramatically rebounded at the point of use.”1This pipeline constitutes an urgent public health risk, as antibiotic resistance renders modern drugs ineffective against dangerous bacterial infections. This threatens the life of those in our community already at risk: the elderly, the sick, and the very young.
Additional research recently published in the Flagstaff Noise demonstrated a clear danger to plant life irrigated with wastewater, illustrating a serious threat to Groundsel, an endangered plant found only on the San Francisco Peaks.
“All water is connected. It is illogical and dangerous to believe that the effects of antibiotics, contraceptive hormones, industrial contaminants, and microbial pathogens —all found in Flagstaff’s treated sewage effluent—will be limited to a few runs on Snowbowl or to the Lowell Observatory grounds,” stated Derek Minnobloom another on-the-ground supporter of the tree-sit.
“Our public officials have failed all of us - not only to ensure our public safety, a clean healthy future for our water and our children - but also to protect the rights of indigenous peoples whose land we’re on,” stated Ariana Sauer, a volunteer withProtectThePeaks.organd a tree-sit supporter. “This action is in solidarity with the thirteen indigenous nations who hold this mountain sacred.”
We invite those of you who believe in the safety and health of our children, the sanctity of our environment, and the protection of public water to demand that:
- The City of Flagstaff rescind the wastewater contract with Snowbowl!
- An immediate moratorium on the City of Flagstaff's use of treated sewage effluent in public spaces where any person may come in contact with reclaimed wastewater, until new research and technology is available to mitigate long-term environmental & community health risks.
-The use of public water in this desert climate of Flagstaff with only a projected 25-38 years of water left for people’s consumption, should be cleaned and used for people to drink, not for a private corporation to make a profit.
-President Obama fulfill campaign promises to protect human rights and sacred sites.

Skateboarder Punched In The Head By LAPD Officer

A 20-year-old Venice skateboarder and his family are accusing Los Angeles police of using unnecessary force after a video shows him pinned to the ground and an officer punching him in the face.
Protesters in Venice allege that the LAPD beat skateboarder Ronald Weekley Jr.The incident unfolded Saturday afternoon when college student Ronald Weekley Jr. was riding his skateboard in the street when officers sought to detain him, police said. Weekley's attorney alleges that police grabbed him and threw him to the ground. Weekley suffered a broken nose, concussion and fractured cheekbone, said Ryan Julison, a spokesperson for attorney Benjamin Crump.
A video provided to KTLA shows Weekley on the ground with four officers on top of him. One officer is seen punching Weekley in the head.
The allegations are now being investigated by the LAPD's internal affairs unit, police said.
Cmdr. Andrew Smith told The Times that Weekley was riding his skateboard on the wrong side of the street. When officers tried to stop him, Weekley "tried to flee." Officers then struggled to control Weekley and used force to handcuff and subdue him, Smith said.
Weekley was arrested on suspicion of resisting arrest and on three outstanding warrants, including one for failing to appear in court on a traffic violation.
Weekley's family is planning a news conference Tuesday with attorneys, alleging that he was subject to unnecessary force and racial profiling because he is an African American male, a family spokesman said.
In interview with KTLA's Eric Spillman, Weekley said, "It's embarrassing, it hurts. I didn't do anything. All I did was get on my skateboard."
[Updated 4:48 p.m.: On Monday afternoon, protesters gathered at the scene at 6th and Sunset avenues in Venice, where they waved signs that said "Stop Police Brutality" and "Honk 4 Justice." Some passing motorists honked their horns in support.]

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Police State: Anaheim California

Anaheim PD shoot protesters with rubber bullets, bean bag guns and pepper ball guns. Police shot a man in the chest with a bean bag gun from 5-10 feet away as he tried to get his bike and then arrested him. Many people hit. Starbucks windows smashed and a dumpster fire all while Disney shoots off fireworks. 7 helicopters overhead.

Police State Los Angeles Skidrow being raided right now live stream

Live stream by Ustream
People at Occupy Skidrow are being detained over at 4th and Towne

More on Police State Anaheim

Community taking to the streets check stream

Live Video streaming by Ustream

Police State: Dallas

About two hours ago an as-of-yet unnamed Dallas PD employee shot and killed a man. Witnesses say the man was unarmed and shot in the back.

This is is the 13th shooting, 7th death at the hands of Dallas PD employees this year. 

Hundreds have taken to the streets in southeast Dallas near Fair Park where the incident happened. Some have used the term "riot" to describe but thus far news is sparse and it might have quelled a bit.

Can anyone on the ground weigh-in with updates? If you can livestream please share your channel or email me and I'll provide the log-in for


Teachers Protesting are Still Teaching!

Know Your Rights: Cops Try And Raid Garage Sale But Get Shut Down Quick! "I'm With CopWatch I've Dealt With You"

Monday, July 23, 2012

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Police in Anaheim Shoot Beanbags and Release K9 on Baby

First Police shoot and wound an unarmed man, then they refuse wounded man medical care and then attack witnesses and an entire community. This past Saturday afternoon in Anaheim, CA, a group of protestors seeking justice in an incident involving one cop shooting a civilian to death, were put into a gloomy situation. As the gathering continued outside, officers moved to confront protestors. Once police realized protestors would not stop the demonstration, a policeman fired rubber bullets at the crowd of men, women and children. Seconds into the attack, a cop released one police K9 which went after a mother and daughter.

Riots have started in response.
Cops tried to buy the video from filmers to cover up their rampage. The filmers released the video anyway:
The communities of Anaheim are mobilizing

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

La Guardia Indígena del norte del Cauca, Colombia, expulsó a los militares

Bogota, 17 julio (RHC) La Guardia Indígena del norte del Cauca, Colombia, expulsó a los militares que se encontraban en esa zona para exigir el fin de los enfrentamientos armados que han afectado a varios poblados de la región y que han causado el desplazamiento de unos 600 habitantes.

altAnte esa situación, los soldados colombianos arremetieron con gases lacrimógenos este martes contra los originarios, luego que más de mil nativos se concentraron en la base Militar de la Torre cercana al municipio de Toribío para hacer una toma del lugar y exigir la salida del Ejército de la zona.

La evacuación se da luego de una situación de tensión en la que los "militares empezaron a disparar para acorralar a los indígenas", señaló la prensa local, pese al plazo que los indígenas dieron para la desmilitarización de la región.

Los oriundos establecieron como plazo este lunes a 
todo grupo legal o ilegal que esté armado para que abandonaran los territorios de las comunidades.

Feliciano Valencia, miembro de la comunidad indígena había reiterado que la intención del desalojo no es agredir a nadie, “es decirles con la razón que nos asiste que nos cansamos de la guerra y no aguantamos más.

Se estima que en la zona hay unos 5 mil indígenas, que participaron en la destrucción de las trincheras del Ejército, Policía y FARC en respuesta a la cantidad de hostigamientos, daños y víctimas que dejan los enfrentamientos armados en el norte del Cauca.

The evacuation occurs after a stressful situation in which the "military started shooting to trap the Indians", noted the local press, despite the deadline given by the Indians for the demilitarization of the region.

The natives established deadline this Monday to all legal or illegal group that is assembled so that to leave the territories of communities.

Feliciano Valencia, Member of the indigenous community had reiterated that the intention of the eviction is not attacking anyone, "is say rightly that attend us we get tired of the war and not endure more."

It is estimated that in the area there are about 5,000 indigenous, who participated in the destruction of the trenches of the army, police, and FARC in response to the amount of harassment, damage and victims who left the armed clashes in the North of Cauca. (Translated by bing

Hoy todos somos terroristas / Today we are all terrorist

2 Cops Go To Far And Tase Man For Not Showing His I.D.!?

El Estado es la Escuela del Crimen/The State is the School of Crime

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Sheriff's deputies shoot man in Compton

July 1, 2012 |  8:39 am
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies shot a man in Compton early Sunday, authorities said.
The shooting occurred about 2:30 a.m. in the 500 block of South Long Beach Boulevard, a sheriff’s official said. A gun was recovered at the scene.
It is unclear what prompted the shooting, which remains under investigation.
One media report quoted a coroner’s official saying that the suspect had died. But another coroner's representative said they could not confirm that this was the same individual.

Occupy Skid Row June 22, 2012. Evicted and Re-Occupied!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Rapist cop will go to jail-Jury rejects insanity in Zoloft rape case

Anthony Orban views bottles of Zoloft shown to him uring the sanity phase of his trial.A San Bernardino County jury Tuesday rejected a former Westminster police detective’s defense that he was legally insane due to antidepressant use when he kidnapped and brutally raped a waitress from the Ontario Mills Mall two years ago.
The decision in the sanity phase of the trial means Anthony Orban will serve time in jail rather than receive treatment at a state mental hospital.
Deputy Dist. Atty. Debbie Ploghaus said Tuesday she was very happy with the verdict and considered the Zoloft defense to be a ruse concocted after Orban was arrested. "He's very dangerous. He's very manipulative," she said. "I truly believe in my heart that he had no intention of letting her go."
Orban testified that he had no memory of the lengthy attack and blamed a psychotic break induced by a powerful dose of the popular antidepressant Zoloft, which he also blamed for triggering hallucinations and suicidal and homicidal fantasies during the week of the abduction.  
The same jury earlier this month found Orban guilty of kidnapping, rape and multiple counts of sexual assault, dismissing the defense’s claims that Zoloft had rendered Orban mentally “unconscious” and therefore not responsible for his actions.
Zoloft again was central to the defense in the sanity phase, when Orban’s attorney, James Blatt, tried to convince the jury that his client should be sent to a state mental hospital for treatment, not prison.
Defense witness Dr. Peter Breggin, a New York psychiatrist who has testified about the dangers of psychotropic drugs in trials across North America, told jurors that Orban was “zombie-like” in the days leading up to the attack. He said that Orban had stopped taking the prescribed antidepressant, then resumed it at full dose, provoking a psychotic break during which he was "delirious" and not fully aware of his actions.
The main witness for the prosecution, clinical psychologist Dr. Craig Rath of San Bernardino, on Thursday told the jury that Orban’s blackout was caused more by alcohol than by Zoloft. The day of the attack, Orban and a friend barhopped across Ontario, ordering eight margaritas and two pitchers of beer between them, according to evidence presented at the trial.
"He was not insane," said Roth, testifying about his court-ordered analysis of Orban’s mental state. "He understood the nature and quality of his acts and could distinguish between right and wrong."
During the trial, Ploghaus called the so-called Zoloft defense a "bunch of baloney," saying that Orban had "sex on his mind" shortly before the attack. The night before, he had an argument with his wife and, in the hours before the abduction, sent 45 text messages to a woman with whom he'd recently had an affair.
The victim, a 25-year-old waitress, testified earlier in the trial that Orban kidnapped her as she walked to her car in the Ontario Mills Mall parking lot, then forced her to drive north to  Fontana. After they stopped at a self-storage lot, Orban brutally raped and tormented her,  she said.
When Orban was distracted by an incoming cellphone call, the woman said, she jumped out of the car and ran to safety at a nearby liquor store. Police later recovered Orban's gun, with his name on it, from the victim's car.

Installing Democracy? Cannot install Democracy: Please remove "System"

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Police State:Man Gets Beat Up By Police In West Balitmore!

"A man says after seeing Baltimore Police Officers throw his friend to the ground he became scared and ran. Tiyon Williams who was just exiting a neighborhood store ran away from the incident after he saw police approach his friend. Williams says he surrendered putting his hand up in the air when police slammed him to the ground and began to beat him. Williams who has no criminal record was taking to hospital and left there." - 45News

y por la libertad!

What Can You Do If Police Claim to Smell Marijuana?

‘Occupy Graduation’: Student activists broadcast debt owed with ball and chains

A handful of student activists are expressing their displeasure at the rising cost of college by wearing inflatable ball and chain accessories over their graduation robes. The props state the amount of debt with which they're graduating. The silent commencement protest, dubbed "Occupy Graduation" by its organizers, is taking place at seven universities around the country.
Ben Cohen, the co-founder of Ben & Jerry's ice cream, is helping pay for the protest and has raised about $400,000 to fund Occupy-related projects.
"A college education is so important and now it's only available to people who have a lot of money or to people who end up going into debt for the rest of their lives," Cohen told Yahoo News. The entrepreneur never completed college, but he thinks it's crucial to job success today.
Everardo Gonzalez, a 23-year-old criminal justice graduate of San Francisco State University, said he received "a bunch of positive feedback" from parents and fellow students for his participation in the quiet protest last Saturday at the graduation ceremony.
Gonzalez is graduating with $26,490 in federal loans and another $10,000 in credit card debt that he racked up while trying to make ends meet. His parents couldn't afford to help him pay for college, so he worked at a local Ikea, struggling to balance his class schedule with his job.
During Gonzalez's college career, San Francisco State University cut faculty salaries across the board, laid off staff, dramatically reduced the number of classes offered, hiked tuition and trimmed enrollment, all in response to the reduction in California's higher education budget. Gonzalez was forced to spend another year at school—and take out more loans to do so—after he couldn't find a way into the classes he needed for his major to graduate. (The crowded classes would fill up online within seconds.) The experience spurred him to join a group of student protesters linked with the Occupy Wall Street movement, who demonstrated against the cuts and other issues this year.
Gonzalez has landed a paid internship for next year, and plans to get a master's degree in political theory after that to become a teacher. Gonzalez's debt load is actually about average for graduating college students who took out loans. By attending an in-state school, qualifying for grants and relying solely on federal—not private—loans, Gonzalez has a manageable amount of loans with comparatively low interest rates.
"I'm not the poster child of student debt," he says, but adds that many of his friends are in a worse position. He believes college education should be free, and that existing student loans should be forgiven. Seeing his parents lose their home after the recession hit also made him passionate about advocating for more opportunities for middle-class and poor people. "The entire system is set up for people to fail unless they're privileged," he says.
Ivonne Quiroz, another San Francisco State University protester who graduated with a degree in biology last weekend, was also forced to stay at college for an extra semester after the immunology class she needed to graduate filled up. She's now walking down the aisle with about $21,000 in federal loans. Quiroz said the budget cuts also fueled her protest. "We're paying so much more, but we're getting so much less," she said.
Various Occupy movements have advocated for changing the law so that student debt can be discharged in bankruptcy, forgiving student loans altogether, and having zero percent interest loans for education. Interest rates on subsidized federal student loans are expected to double to 6.8 percent this year, unless Congress passes a law to extend the grace period. (Private loans have higher interest rates.) Still, on average, college graduates make far more money and enjoy lower unemployment rates than their peers who have only a high school diploma.

Another protest is planned for Hunter College in New York at the graduation ceremony on Tuesday. Monica Johnson, a 35-year-old Hunter College graduate student who's helping to organize the demonstration, borrowed about $15,000 in federally secured loans 15 years ago to pay for college. But in 2007, she decided to move to New York to get a master of fine arts degree at Pratt, a private school. She took out an additional $60,000 in loans, which ballooned to $88,000 after she dropped out of the program, dissatisfied. She now has a full-time job at an arts nonprofit and is enrolled at the much cheaper Hunter College, where she'll receive her MFA in December.
Johnson recently paid off $18,000 of her debt over a period of eight months, by subsisting on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and paying for things only in cash, which she said helped her resist buying anything unnecessary. She's encouraging indebted graduates to form a union and negotiate with lenders to get lower rates or income-based repayment.
"What really pisses me off is I should never have been given those loans," Johnson said. "It honestly was the worst money I ever spent."