“It was that kind of sound that goes through your chest, that grabs your stomach and twists your heart and makes you feel sort of weak, it was very, very powerful. … And I thought, ‘Oh gosh, we’re going to break the building down,’” she said.
As a legislative stalemate stretched into weeks, Cohen and her fellow protesters spent nights sleeping on the marble floors of the Capitol. Local businesses donated food. Demonstrators swept out the bathrooms, organized trash runs and even hung signs on the walls with blue tape to avoid damaging the paint, Cohen said.
“The night the vote went down, the Capitol just exploded,” she said. “We were everywhere (in the building) just screaming, and screaming and screaming and they went and passed it anyway.”
Everything that Cohen and her fellow protestors worried would happen came to pass, she said.
“Act 10 devastated the teaching profession, and if you devastate the profession that provides education, you pretty much mess up education,” she said. “We still have to keep trying to reconstruct what we had in the classroom before they took it away.”
Editor’s note: This story is part of a series marking the 10-year anniversary of Act 10. Click here for more stories from people who experienced the historic events firsthand.