Richmond Mayor Welcomes Sacramento Marchers

By Eric Louie

City leaders aren’t always welcoming of Occupy, but that was far from the case in Richmond Friday.

Mayor Gayle McLaughlin made a morning visit to St. Mark’s Church, the first overnight stop in the four-day Occupy Education march from the Bay Area to Sacramento. The group plans to reach UC Davis Sunday and board busses to join large demonstrations at the capitol Monday. About 100 people signed up for the march, with some joining at stops along the way, according to organizers.

As marchers started the day with bagels, coffee, juice and fresh fruits, McLaughlin she was thrilled when the Occupy movement started to address wealth gaps and corporations. The city is currently fighting with Chevron over property tax assessments the oil company believes were too much. If they win various government agencies would have to repay millions, which she said would bring devastating cuts.

McLaughlin also commended Occupy’s focus on education. Many students in Richmond are immigrants, English learners and low-income, groups that need even more resources, she said.

“Thank you for doing what you’re doing,” she said. McLauglin, who made headlines as a Green Party member when elected mayor in 2006, also urged getting progressives into office. Among those joining parts of the march is Eduardo Martinez, who is running for city council in November. Many of the marchers then went to thank her personally after the talk before heading out with an escort from police.

Eric Louie is covering the Occupy movement for The Newspaper Guild-Communications Workers of America.

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