Students protesting a proposed class-fee hike at Santa Monica College tonight were hit by pepper spray from cops. Video (after the jump) depicts some of the mayhem.
The demonstrators are unhappy with a plan to possibly quadruple fees to $180 per unit or more for the most popular classes, which are already hard to get into. Students protested outside at board of trustees meeting.
Three people were taken to hospitals as a result of the spray, officials said:
At least two of those who were hospitalized were students, according to a fire official.
About 200 students were estimated to be at the protest tonight.
As protesters crowded toward a meeting that was only supposed to admit about a dozen outsiders, cops and others appeared to be cornered. People chanted, “Shame on you.”
That's when the pepper spray came out.
Pico Boulevard was shut down in front of the school as a result of the clash.
No arrests were reported.
[Added at 10:36 p.m.]: This report says that as many as 30 protesters were treated at the scene as a result of the spray.
The Corsair student newspaper described the student protest as a “storming” of the board's 7 p.m. meeting in a business building classroom.
The paper says a group of protesters ended up out on Pico near 18th Street after the pepper-spray assault.
A pepper-spray incident at a UC Davis Occupy protest last fall sparked national outrage, including questions about whether such a non-lethal weapon should be used on unarmed protesters.
[Added at 10:58 p.m.]: Student protester Monte Hawkins, who was sprayed, told the Corsair he blamed the board for holding a public meeting in a space that couldn't accommodate … the public:
There was no justification for that. The board knew there would be this many students there. They should have relocated to a bigger venue.
Fox 11 News tonight said the cops involved in the spraying were Santa Monica College officers. Santa Monica police were there “but in a backup role.”
One student told the station that the spray caused more “chaos” than it solved.
Santa Monica College spokesman Bruce Smith said, “There are no reports of any major injuries … we are investigating this.”