Four-Year-Old Girl Pepper-Sprayed by Santa Monica College Police During Tuition Hike Protest; Two Hospitalized
A four-year-old girl was among those pepper-sprayed by campus police Tuesday at a southern California protest against college tuition hikes.
The Atlantic reports that around 200 Santa Monica College students attempted to attend a Board of Trustees meeting Tuesday evening to protest a first-of-its-kind, highly controversial tuition hike that would introduce demand-based pricing for the school’s most popular courses. Classes which would normally cost around $46 per credit would cost up to $180 per credit under the new rules.
Too many students showed up to protest the two-tiered tuition scheme; only about 60 people could fit in the meeting room and so many of the demonstrators were forced into an overflow room. When they tried to make their way to the main meeting room, chaos ensued and Santa Monica College Police shockingly responded by pepper-spraying the protesters.
Among those hit by the painful and potentially deadly chemical weapon was a four-year-old girl. Around 30 people were treated for their injuries; two required hospitalization. Other students were roughed up by baton-wielding police. Several people were also nearly trampled underfoot.
Pepper spray is generally not meant to be used indoors, as its effects are quite serious even when the noxious chemical weapon is permitted to dissipate in open air. It can cause temporary blindness lasting up to half an hour, skin burning for up to an hour, spasms, uncontrollable coughing and difficulty in breathing lasting as long as 15 minutes. It can be fatal is used against people with respiratory problems like asthma. According to the Los Angeles Times, 61 people died in the United States after being pepper sprayed by police in one five-year period alone. Pepper spray is banned for use in war under the Chemical Weapons Convention.
If there’s a silver lining to the Santa Monica pepper spray incident, it’s that Jack Scott, Chancellor of Santa Monica College, has requested that the school suspend its proposed two-tiered tuition pricing scheme due to its questionable legality.
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