SMC Students Rally Against Pepper Spray Incident
Santa Monica students rallied Thursday against the pepper spray incident, in which police pepper sprayed students for forcing their way into the Board of Trustee's meeting discussing rising tuition.
Students marched from Santa Monica campus to the District Offices, and police were present to protect public safety.
Many students saw the pepper spray occurrence as a threat to their right to voice their opinions.
One student, Justin Simons, said, "I'm not going to sit back and watch their rights be trampled on while the state cuts budgets and runs their lives."
"What we're fighting for is against a generational injustice which has taken education away from my little brother and even me," Harrison Wills commented.
"I shouldn't have to be brutalized to be heard," said one Santa Monica College student during a student press conference held Wednesday morning.
Santa Monica College officials plan to launch an investigation into the pepper spraying over at least 30 students at a Board of Trustees meeting Tuesday night.
More than 100 students gathered outside of the meeting, said Public Information Officer Bruce Smith. As many as 200 students came to the meeting, according to Santa Monica Fire Department Captain Judah Smith.
The Board of Trustees was meeting to discuss fee hikes to summer classes. An overflow room was opened for the students to express their issues.
The trouble came when the students wanted to address the Board in person. The Board wanted to keep the capacity of the main meeting room at 12 or 13 people. When students tried to force their way into the smaller meeting room, police used pepper spray to keep them back.
After the pepper spraying, the meeting continued for about an hour, according to Patty Del Valle, a counselor at the college.
Two of the eight trustees went to the overflow room after the incident to hear from about 20 protesters after the incident. The other committee members heard from the students through a video link.
Pico Boulevard was close for five blocks near the college during the clash.