Sacramento prepares for student protests

Organizers of today's rally at the state Capitol are expecting about 2,000 people to turn out to demonstrate support for public education and protest budget cuts, layoffs and university fee increases.

Busloads of college students and professors are coming from San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Berkeley and Chico to attend a midday rally on the north steps of the Capitol. It's one of hundreds of events around the country that will make up today's "day of action" designed to draw attention to the impact state budget cuts are having on public education.

A demonstration also is planned at UC Davis, where tensions among students are already running high because of an unrelated spate of provocative incidents. On Wednesday morning, university police discovered swastikas spray-painted on three spots around campus. The week before, a swastika was carved into the dormitory door of a Jewish student, and the campus center for gay and lesbian students was vandalized with offensive graffiti.

"It's so disheartening to see (this) in a place people consider their home," said sophomore David Turkell, 19, a member of UC Davis' Jewish fraternity. Turkell participated in a small demonstration Wednesday intended to show students' opposition to acts of bigotry at Davis and other campuses.

UC San Diego has been rocked in recent weeks by three events targeting African Americans: a student party mocking Black History Month, a noose found hanging in the library, and a KKK-style white hood left on a campus statue.

Those incidents are unrelated to today's budget protests. But for many students the acts of bigotry have intensified their feelings about demonstrating today.

"It's just fueled the anger," said Turkell. "People are very angry their fees are being raised … and it's boiling over."

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