We expect the California Community Colleges Chancellor Jack Scott to order an independent investigation of the circumstances leading up to and culminating in the pepper-spraying and physical abuse of students, a four-year-old child, and other community members at the April 3, 2012 Santa Monica Community College (SMCC) Board of Trustees meeting. These acts involved the campus police of SMCC. We want to know what directives the police received from the school administration, which police were involved, what protocols and preparations were in place for a large public meeting, and why access to this important meeting was severely curtailed, despite interest expressed by stakeholders in voicing their protest to a two-tiered course system.
California is on the verge of defaulting on its commitment to public education. This is due to multiple factors, including Prop 13's regressive tax policies and legislative stranglehold, plummeting property values, school privatization efforts subsidized by public money, administrators' excessive salaries and pork-barrel "capital improvement" projects that burden the state with unnecessary debt. The purpose of the April 3, 2012, SMCC Board meeting was to implement a partial privatization scheme for the college. The SMCC Board had directed its staff to implement a corporate "not-for-profit" contract to teach 50 core classes that are in high demand – at three to four times the price of the regular tuition. Students and the community were attempting to express their opposition to this policy. Community Colleges' Chancellor Jack Scott (http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-0405-pepper-spray-20120405,0,6834089.story) implied that this plan may violate state education codes. Despite the questionable legality of the plan, the Board chose a meeting venue that had a capacity for only 60 people, and would thus not receive the public review that such a drastic plan necessitates. According to eye witnesses, the police pepper sprayed and assaulted people outside the meeting room. Thirty people were reportedly injured and two people were taken to the hospital. Violent repression of dissent in this country is a threat to our entire social fabric. It is imperative that we uphold democratic values of free speech and assembly.