More than two dozen California teachers, including the president of the state's largest teachers union, were arrested at the state Capitol Thursday night as part of a protest over education funding in the state budget.
The California Highway Patrol began arresting the teachers shortly after the building was scheduled to close at 6 p.m. Thursday. The protesters were given several warnings to leave the building or risk arrest.
"They chose not to leave, leaving us with no option but to physically remove them," said CHP Officer Sean Kennedy.
The California Teachers Association says 26 people were arrested in all. Kennedy said he did not yet have an accurate count Thursday night.
Among those arrested was CTA President David Sanchez, who had earlier led a group of about 75 protesters singing and chanting outside the office of Senate Minority Leader Bob Dutton, R-Rancho Cucamonga.
Sanchez said he was willing to be arrested "on behalf of the California students and our teachers who are in public education."
"I think it's going to let the public understand the seriousness, the state of emergency that California public schools are under right now," he told The Associated Press as he was placed in plastic handcuffs.
The teachers lined up and quietly waited to be arrested one by one. Kennedy said no one resisted, and they will be charged with trespassing on state property, a misdemeanor.
"It seemed like a different vibe," than when about 65 protesters were arrested after occupying the state Capitol Monday night, Kennedy said.
Dozens of teachers had filled the hallways outside Dutton's office and that of Assembly Minority Leader Connie Conway, R-Tulare.
David Goldberg, who said he was a teacher from Los Angeles, said he was willing to be arrested to protest what he said are lawmakers balancing the state budget "on the backs of our students."
"I have three beautiful kids who I want to see grow up in California where their lives are valued as students and as people in California, and to keep balancing the budget on the backs of them is unfair. It's a travesty," Goldberg said. "This is the least I can do, as a teacher and as a parent."
Thursday's occupation was part of a weeklong protest over education funding. California has a $15.4 billion deficit, and Democrats and Republicans have so far been unable to agree on a solution for closing it.