Tuition, Hate Crimes and Same-Sex Marriage

CSU students and faculty protest new tuition hikes and stagnant raise negotiations.

CSU tuition rises, L.A. County hate crimes drop and Proposition 8 could see the inside of a court room again.

CSU Raises Tuition, Students and Faculty Fight Back
The California State University system had a busy week.

The board of trustees for the 23-campus system voted Wednesday to approve a 9 percent tuition hike for Fall 2012 – raising CSU’s tuition about 30 percent since Spring 2010.

Outside the meeting, which was closed to the public and press, a mob of students and their supporters clashed with police.

A glass door was shattered and police used pepper spray against the crowd, which was trying to get back into the chancellor’s Long Beach office building. Three officers were injured and four protesters were arrested.

The next day, CSU faculty staged their first-ever one-day strike at the Dominguez Hills and East Bay campuses.

About 400 people showed up to the demonstration, organized over a battle with the CSU trustees over pay raises.

“We are tired of the chancellor using staff and students as ATM machines to bail out the CSU system,” said Lillian Taiz, president of the California Faculty Association, the union which represents 24,000 CSU faculty members. “People have had enough.”

Occupy Arrests
More than 30 Occupy L.A. protesters were arrested Thursday during two marches in downtown’s financial district.

The march was held in solidarity with other Occupy crowds across the country as a “day of action,” which called demonstrators into the streets chanting, “This is what democracy looks like.”

Thursday’s occupiers marched from City Hall, where the Occupy L.A. encampment has been housed since Oct. 1, to the Bank of America Plaza to 4th Street and Figueroa, where police arrested more than 20 protesters who remained in the street after they were ordered to leave.

Another dozen protesters were arrested later in the day at the Bank of American Plaza.

L.A.County Hate Crimes Drop to 21-Year Low
Major drops in vandalism and gang-related crimes provided the backdrop for Los Angeles

County’s lowest level of hate crimes since 1989, the Los Angeles Times reported.

While numbers across the state remained unchanged, L.A.’s numbers were encouraging.

Reports of hate vandalism, mostly graffiti, dropped 41 percent, and anti-African-American hate crimes dropped 42 percent, according to the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations’ 2010 annual report.

"This precipitous decline, reaching lower than it was 10 years ago, is really heartening news,” Robin Toma, the commission’s director, told the Times.

Fullerton Officer Accused in Beating Death Keeps Pension
One of the police officers accused in the July death of a homeless Fullerton man will continue to receive his nearly $40,000 annual disability pension, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Jay Cicinelli’s disability award, approved in 1996 after he lost an eye during a shooting while on duty, was in contention because he seemed to be working patrol duty while on disability, the Times reported.

While pensioners are not forbidden to work, officials said Cicinelli’s duty as a patrol officer raised questions about his disability status.

His situation came to the attention of Los Angeles Fire and Police Pensions staff over the summer when Cicinelli was named as one of the six officers involved in the beating death of Kelly Thomas, 37, at a Fullerton bus depot.

Cicinelli faces charges of involuntary manslaughter and excessive use of force in the case, and is on unpaid leave from the Fullerton department.

Prop 8 Backers Win Right to Appeal
The voter-approved initiative banning same-sex marriage will be back in court after the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals gave the law’s sponsors permission to defend its legality.

Proposition 8 was deemed unconstitutional in August 2010 by Federal District Court Judge Vaughn R. Walker.

That move would have killed the initiative, but Thursday’s opinion gave supporters of the law the rare opportunity to defend the state’s interest.

Advocates of same-sex marriage said there could be a silver lining to the latest development.

"While a disappointing ruling, this case is now back in federal court, where we expect a quick victory," said Jon W. Davidson is Legal Director at Lambda Legal.

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