Huffpost College

Dr. Chui Tsang, Santa Monica College President, Defends Campus Police Pepper-Spraying Protesters

Posted: Updated:
SANTA MONICA COLLEGE PROTESTERS
Dr. Chui L. Tsang said campus police "exercised restraint" dealing with protesters at the Board of Trustees meeting. (Getty Image) | getty

Santa Monica College president Dr. Chui L. Tsang defended campus police who dealt with demonstrators Tuesday evening, pepper-spraying dozens of students and bystanders, including a four-year-old child.

"Although a number of participants at the meeting engaged in unlawful conduct, Santa Monica College police personnel exercised restraint and made no arrests," Tsang said in a statement.

Students were trying to voice their strong opposition to a plan that would dramatically increase the cost to take classes at the community college, imposing a higher rate for in demand classes. In-state resident students currently pay $36 per credit unit, but that could jump to $180.

Community colleges in the state have lost billions in funding in recent years and Santa Monica has cut more than 1,000 classes. Around 100 students showed up at the Board of Trustees meeting shouting "Shame on you!" Tsang said attempting to disrupt the Board of Trustees meeting was "unlawful conduct."

"Santa Monica College regrets that a group of people chose to disrupt a public meeting in an unlawful manner," Tsang said. "The college has launched a full investigation into the matter."

The American Civil Liberties Union said campus police went too far.

"The college must respect the right of students to make their voices heard, especially when they are expressing profound concern about college policies that will impact them and their studies," said the ACLU's Hector Villagra, as reported by the Los Angeles Times. "Free speech means being able to speak freely without being doused with pepper spray, which has excruciating effects that can last for days. When campus police respond with excessive force, it makes students afraid to speak out."

Trustee David Finkel said he wasn't convinced the use of pepper spray was absolutely necessary.

Patch reports after the meeting, the Board of Trustees still planned to move forward with the controversial new funding plan. The Chancellor of the California Community College system wants Santa Monica to hold off on the new plan.

Around the Web

No warning before pepper spray, Santa Monica College students ...

Santa Monica College must investigate pepper spraying, ACLU says ...

Video shows chaotic scene of Santa Monica College pepper spraying

California college chief defends use of pepper spray - Yahoo! News

30 Pepper-Sprayed Outside Santa Monica College Board of ...

Santa Monica College students pepper-sprayed while protesting ...

Santa Monica College Defends Use of Pepper Spray as Students ...

U.S. News - 30 people pepper-sprayed at Santa Monica College ...

Santa Monica: Protesting students pepper-sprayed

Santa Monica College Students Pepper-Sprayed During Protest

Police Pepper-Spray Santa Monica College Students (VIDEO)

Students angry over pricey courses pepper-sprayed

Calif. college probes use of pepper spray on students

VIDEO: Pepper Spray Used At Another California Student Protest

UPDATED: Police Pepper Spray Santa Monica College Students - Santa Monica, CA ...