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Thirty Santa Monica College students and one 4-year-old were treated for injuries and as many as 5 were hospitalized on Tuesday after being pepper-sprayed during a protest against 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.
Videos taken by students on their cell phones showed protestors in a hallway fleeing the spray, wiping their eyes and screaming.
"A police officer sort of stumbled and lost his balance," Burnett said. "He got back up and I guess he panicked and just pulled out the pepper spray and started spraying the crowd."
Paramedics treated students after the incident, and two students were taken to a nearby hospital. No arrests were made.
"I'm a little shaken up to be honest," said Candice Yamaguchi, a student who was hit by the spray.
There was no comment from campus police. College officials said they were investigating the incident.
And from the LAT:
Santa Monica police were called in to secure the perimeter of the building. College President Chui Tsang said the small boardroom wasn't able to accommodate all of the students who wanted to speak and that an adjacent room had been provided for the overflow.
"We expected some students, but we didn't expect that big of a crowd with such enthusiasm," Tsang said.
When the meeting resumed, most of the students were allowed to address trustees from an adjoining room. Many urged the board to find other solutions to maintain access.
"This is a Band-Aid on a gushing wound and will not be a sustainable solution," said Parker Jean, 19, a political science major.
Board Chair Margaret Quinones-Perez announced at the end of the comment period that the college would pay medical bills for any students who suffered injuries during the disturbance.
According to MSNBC news:
Capt. Judah Mitchell of the Santa Monica Fire Department told NBC News that up to 30 people had been sprayed, five of whom sought treatment for the effects of the spray and were transported to nearby hospitals.
Priscillia Omon, 21, claimed a police officer fired the spray into the mouths and eyes of people standing arm's length away, NBC Los Angeles reported. She said a family, including a 4 year old, were in the crowd when the officer used the pepper spray.
"They were trying to silence our voices by not allowing students access to this supposedly open forum," Omon told the station.
However, Mitchell said a mother and young child were not among those treated for the effects of pepper spray.
Although Captain Mitchell says that there was not a small child treated, a photograph at the top of the article clearly shows a small girl receiving water to flush out her eyes.