Santa Monica News
SMCC: Reports On April Pepper Spray Incident
By Katherine Noland
Jan 22, 2013 - 11:50:17 AM

SANTA MONICA—The Santa Monica Community College District released an independent review on Friday, January 18, in regard to the incident that occurred in April when a officer used pepper spray during a protest on the school’s main campus, leading to dozens of minor injuries and to two students being brought to the hospital.

 

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The result of the Santa Monica College Pepper Spray Incident. (courtesy Facebook)

On April 3, 2012, The Santa Monica Board of Trustees were holding their regular scheduled meeting in which they were to discuss the highly controversial plan to add 50 courses at $150-$200 a unit, five times the price of a typical unit at SMCC. In response, hundreds of attendees and protestors joined at the Business Building on the school’s main campus where the meeting was held.

 

Many of the protestors were there to request a larger room so that it could accommodate everyone, including those who wished to voice their opinion on the matter. Superintendent/President Dr. Chui Tsang stated that this was the “centerpiece” of the protestors’ demands, and ultimately the root of the incident.

 

As the crowd pushed its way through the already overcrowded room, there was physical contact that Sergeant J.B. Williams claimed warranted the need to use pepper spray. As a result, a number of bystanders, including other officers and non-protestors, were affected and needed medical treatment.

 

According to the review, one person stated there was “an angry mob of students attempting to provoke police officers.” Other students agreed that the scene was unruly and meanwhile students in class inside of the Business Building were disrupted as a result.

 

The report released Friday concluded that prior to using the spray there was “no warning,” which violated protocol. In addition, because the spray was used to disperse the crowd and not to arrest or restrain a suspect, this also went against policy. Fifteen different recommendations were made on the review, including new police department control policies, and the banning of the use of chemical agents in occupied buildings.

 

This is largely due to the fact that bystanders are often unfairly affected. Another recommendation was made that the officers use pepper spray with .2% concentration, whereas Sergeant J.B. Williams was using a more intense and longer lasting spray called “Sabre Red.” Williams resigned in October.



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