At least 30 Santa Monica College students were pepper-sprayed when they chanted outside a trustees meeting last night to protest budget cuts and fee hikes. "I got pepper-sprayed with no warning," said one student, 21, who had been standing in a hallway outside the meeting. A college spokesman, who noted pepper spray has never been used before on campus, said it was the "judgment of campus police that the crowd was getting out of hand," reports the AP. At least two people were taken to a nearby hospital. Others standing in the hallway were overcome by the spray that filled the enclosed space, reports the Los Angeles Times.
"I saw all these students rushing and they were crying," said a 19-year-old student. "I couldn't stop coughing." The students had planned to enter the meeting during the public comment portion. One video of the scene before the pepper-spraying shows students chanting: "Let us in" and "No cuts, no fees." They switch to "shame on you" after students are sprayed. After they were cleared from the building, city cops were called in to "secure the perimeter." The trustees were removed to another space, and some students were later allowed to address them from an adjoining room, according to the Times. The board chairwoman announced that the college would pay medical bills for any students who suffered injuries.