Campus police remove SOC tent, school says recently manured quad "a coincidence"
Santa Monica College Police removed a tent pitched by protesters in SMC's quad at around 1 p.m. Monday amid wet grass and freshly laid manure. Protesters from the Student Organizing Committee pitched the tent earlier this afternoon in anticipation of an overnight "camp out" the group has been planning since last week. The group had originally decided on camping by the clocktower area of the campus, but say they changed venues because sprinklers were wetting the grass.
"I just walked by; the sprinklers have been going off for the past few hours and there's manure everywhere, getting soaked," said a commenter on the public SOC Facebook page.
According to Director of Facilities JC Saunders-Keurjian, the manure is fresh. "We didn't know there was going to be protesting today, it was just a coincidence," she says, adding that the sprinkling is necessary after manure is laid.
Police and members of the Student Organizing Committee said there was some confrontation but no violence. The protesters argued that they had the right to erect their tents, though a municipal code prohibits camping at certain public places, specifically SMC.
Marioly Gomez of the SOC said she didn't know what the next plans were for tonight's protests, though the official camp out was scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. Protesters continue to demonstrate, writing "Please don't pepper-spray me, it burns" and "No Contract Ed" in chalk on the ground near where the tent was erected.
The students have been protesting Contract Ed, a measure that was to add 50 self-funded classes to the school's 700 state-funded summer classes. Members of the SOC have said that it creates "an inequity" in the community college system that favors students with means.
The Board of Trustees voted to postpone the program after pressure from an incident April 4 where campus police pepper-sprayed about 30 students who were trying to gain entry to a Trustee meeting.
In an interview Thursday, Sgt. Jere Romano of the SMCPD said that the department had spoken with senior officials to discuss a plan for protests beginning today, adding that Santa Monica Police Department to handle the situation.
Police say that the tent is available to be claimed in found property at the SMCPD station.
The SOC refused our request for comment.