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January 24, 2013 Local News & Culture. Marina del Rey Westchester Free S a n ta M o n i c a P l aya d e l R e y P l aya V i s t a M a r V i s ta Del Rey VenicE Photo by Michael Price A Clash of Wills Panel faults officer, protesters in pepper spraying incident at SMC By Gary Walker Nine months after an infamous incident that received national news coverage when Santa Monica College students were pepper sprayed before a contentious board of trustees meeting, an independent review panel has released its findings. Dozens of students came to the April 3 board meeting to protest a proposal by college administrators to impose a two-tiered course system where students taking core classes such as English, mathematics and science would be charged as much as $180 per course in the summer and winter sessions. A confrontation between demonstrators and SMC police occurred and the officers pepper sprayed the crowd of protestors, who were trying to enter the board room. Approximately 30 people sought decontamination from the effects of the pepper spray. Following the incident, col- lege administrators called for an independent review of the clash between campus police and students. The review panel’s report found that one officer engaged in an inappropriate use of force and called the conduct of several of the student demonstrators “unacceptable.” It cleared a number of veteran campus police officers but suggested that “additional training and protocols” were needed for the campus force. “The report provides a series of findings and conclusions regarding pre-planning, crowd control, communications, sufficiency of personnel, behavior of protesters, the needs of the campus community to be educated on protest rights and responsibilities, and the priority use of student discipline processes to address violation of campus protest rule,” the panel wrote. While the review indicated many members of the campus police largely acted in a profes- •This Week• Page 12 Historical folk-rock musician Al Stewart will play a concert with Dave Nachmanoff at McCabe’s Guitar Shop in Santa Monica Friday and Saturday, Jan. 25 and 26. Santa Monica College student Samaria Gomez, left, and an unnamed student are assisted by a Santa Monica firefighter after an April 3 incident where campus police pepper sprayed a crowd of demonstrators. sional manner at the April 3 incident, one officer did not. “The report concludes that some force threatened or used by one individual officer was inappropriate,” the panel wrote. In addition, there are 13 recommendations for a variety of areas and college departments that are within the official documents. SMC President Chui L. Tsang accepted the results of the investigation. “Santa Monica College is an outstanding learning institution, open, diverse, and supportive of the free exchange of ideas,” he said. “I am heartened by the thorough examination and detailed recommendations provided by the review panel regarding the April 3, 2012, protest events. (Continued on page 10) Board representing L.A. neighborhood councils asks for notification By Gary Walker Since their creation during the Los Angeles City Charter amendment process over a decade ago, neighborhood councils have made great strides in gaining increased influence in creating a forum for dialogue on some of the city’s most pressing matters, including homelessness, budget items and land use matters. As volunteers, board members’ work and observations on critical local topics give their respective City Council representatives an important, ground level perspective in real time on what is important to the constituents of their council districts. But a recent series of events have motivated a subset of the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment, the city agency that supervises the 95 neighborhood councils to ask the Los Angeles City Council for earlier notification on projects and initiatives that could affect the lives of their constituents. The Board of Neighborhood Commissioners (BONC) sent a letter to the City Council and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa Jan. 22, which includes asking Villaraigosa for an executive order that would require city departments to appoint a neighborhood council liaison to alert them. “We need an early warning system on important issues for neighborhood councils,” said BONC Commissioner Linda Lucks. A recent action by Councilman Mitchell Englander is Exhibit A for the appeal for prior notification on council plans and initiatives. Early this month, Englander proposed a $3-million bond measure that would hike property taxes over a 20-year period, generating revenue in (Continued on page 9)

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