SMC — An internal police report obtained by a newspaper faulted the Santa Monica College Board of Trustees in a melee that resulted in student protesters being hit with pepper spray.
The Los Angeles Times reports that the 60-page report drafted by campus police found that administrators should not have denied a request from SMC police in March to move the April 3 meeting to a larger hall to accommodate more students.
Over 100 students went to the meeting to protest a proposal that would have created extra sessions of in-demand classes provided that students paid for the entire cost of the class.
The idea was to increase access to much-needed classes for students who struggled to get the courses they needed to transfer to a four-year university.
Students called it a privatization of their public education and flooded the board meeting in a desire to stop the program.
As dozens tried to force their way into the meeting, a sergeant with the campus police used pepper spray. Two protesters were taken to the hospital and more than 30 were exposed.
Campus officials would not comment directly on the L.A. Times article, but said that the report was one piece of information being reviewed by a panel tasked to produce a report analyzing all aspects of college officials’ response that night.
Among the panelists are Campus Counsel Robert Myers, who sued the Los Angeles Police Department for improper use of chemical weapons, and Trustee Nancy Greenstein, a current board member for the ACLU of Southern California and director of police community services at the UCLA Police Department.
The report that was leaked was one of many things that the panel is reviewing to make its ultimate assessment, Myers said.
“The review panel had received a copy of the report. We have a series of follow-up questions we’re working on getting answers to, and it will be addressed (in our report),” Myers said.
Panelists received the initial report in July, and additional materials like officer statements and other accounts in August.
The unexpected release of the material will not hurt the panel’s end product, Myers said.
“The review panel will go about doing its work,” he said. “We believe we’ll be able to do the type of report Dr. Tsang wants us to do whether or not this was leaked.”
He expects it will be out by the end of the year.
The report will not deliver on at least one thing that students called for at the beginning of the process — the removal of any of the police involved in the pepper spraying.
The incident launched SMC into the national headlines. It was referenced alongside UC Davis, where seated protesters were sprayed in the face by a campus police officer.
Those students have reportedly reached a settlement with the university. The UC Board of Trustees is expected to vote on that settlement next week.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.