A student protest against rising tuition fees at Santa Monica College in California on Tuesday turned ugly when police pepper sprayed upwards of 30 people, including a 4 year old child and a congressional candidate.
Hundreds had gathered to voice their complaints to trustees at an evening meeting, but were refused admission into the hall, which caused the group to angrily demand that they be heard, either there or in a more appropriate larger space. When they were ignored, some attempted to enter the meeting room and insisted that the powers-that-be listen to their concerns.
That is when police stepped in to pepper spray the protesters, some of whom were covered with a thick fog of the burning substance at close range.
Two people were hospitalized, and several were injured, including bystanders.
"“People were gasping and choking,” David Steinman tells the Associated Press. Steinman, a local environmental activist, was protesting against the college’s attempt to raise the cost of select classes. He is currently running for California Congress in hopes of winning a seat in the state’s District 33. On his campaign’s official Facebook page, addressed his concerns over the college’s plans hours before the incident.
“We are excluding students, and taxing them without representation, I feel, to feed a bloated state budget,” wrote Steinman, who added that the school has exponentially increased student fees over the years. “We need to look at the state community college boards of trustees as well as at our state government which has absolutely no accountability to the people. We need education to move our state forward.
The tiered system being proposed does just the opposite,” said Steinman. http://rt.com/usa/news/santa-monica-pepp
Steinman was one of those attacked, and many of those present voiced their shock and dismay in the manner in which police behaved, stating that the force attacked by spraying them at close range without giving notice.
Many were attended to on the scene by medical emergency personnel.
Recent proposals by the college would see the class prices quadruple, a trend which many worry will put higher education out of reach for all but the rich.
Last November on the nearby campus of Davis University, students were pepper sprayed in an incident that became famous worldwide, while protesting the same high tuition rates.
The police officer in the UC Davis incident is being sued by the students, details of which can be learned here:
In Montreal, Canada, last month, tens of thousands of Canadian students took to the streets to protest high tuition fees, after one student lost his eye due to a thrown flash bang canister during a previous demonstration.