Pepper spray incident at SMC leads to student protest at LAMC

Students at Los Angeles Mission College (LAMC) protested against recent decisions made regarding budget cuts before the Board of Trustees (BOT) meeting Wednesday by carrying signs calling for help from the board and talking in front of the trustees during the meeting.


“How does it make sense that we’re paying more to get less?” Mission College’s Associated Students Organization Executive Administrator Randy Gamez said.


The protest was organized and brought into action by Gamez and a group of LAMC students who recently formed the Student Empowerment Movement, an organization with the goal of raising awareness and encourage students to make their voices heard.


Gamez attended the protest outside the BOT meeting at Santa Monica College (SMC), which ended with protesters being pepper-sprayed by police officers.


He was pepper-sprayed in attempt to make his voice heard.


“We have been standing here today through sun and rain to make a statement,” he said.


If they do not feel a change in the way the BOT represents student, the Student Empowerment Movement plans to begin a recall campaign that will jeopardize the position of the trustees.


“It’s your job to find the money and make sure that the people in your positions will represent us,” Gamez told the BOT during their meeting.


The students wanted to let the BOT know that they will fight for their rights, computer science major at LAMC Saul Perez said.


Perez said that he is afraid that if no one stands up and talks, the government will continue to take away much needed resources from students.


He has been finding it difficult to enroll into classes that are required for his major.


“How can they only give us one networking section every other semester?” he said. “It’s a basic class and a basic skill we need.”


Nadia Abrica, the mother of 4-year-old Aranza who was pepper-sprayed during the protest at SMC, attended the protest at LAMC as well with the goal of fighting for LAMC’s the Child Development Center.


Abrica brought her child to the protest at SMC since she could not leave her at LAMC’s Child Development Center child care, because its’ hours have been cut tremendously, she said.


She makes sure daily that her 4-year-old is informed of the situation.


“If you ask [my child] why she went to the protest, she’ll tell you ‘because budget cuts want to take away my day care,’ ” Abrica said.


Abrica said that she will continue to fight for her daughter’s future.


“We’re 10,000 students here, but everyone is scared to act,” she said.


Pierce College students fear what will come in the future.


“It’s nice to know that we’re not the only ones suffering from all these cuts,” said dance major Alisha Perez. “But it doesn’t change the fact that they are taking everything.”