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More Evidence Of Racial Profiling By The LAPD At USC Party

Rikiesha Pierce |
May 5, 2013 | 1:52 p.m. PDT

Guest Contributor

The LAPD were responding to a party hosted by people of color. (Rikiesha Pierce)
The LAPD were responding to a party hosted by people of color. (Rikiesha Pierce)
Friday, May 3, 1:45 a.m.

Seventy-nine Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) officers responded to a noise complaint on 23rd Street and Hoover. In the ensuing hours, six University of Southern California (USC) students were arrested and one LAPD officer was hospitalized for minor injuries. After a collaborative effort between Chief John Thomas of USC’s Department of Public Safety (DPS) and Captain Paul Snell of the LAPD, all of the students were released either on bail or their own recognizance.

LAPD Officer Carlyle and his partner were first on the scene. Carlyle explained that, initially, he only requested that the party's DJ turn off the amplified sound. The DJ complied; however, when he began making shout-outs using the microphone, Carlyle ordered the police officers to shut the party down. When party attendees “refused to disperse,” Carlyle dispatched a help call and within an hour, 79 police officers from five Los Angeles police divisions had arrived on the scene.

Similar to last month’s response to an off-campus USC house party hosted by students of color, the officers formed a single horizontal line, forcing students out of the residential area on 23rd Street and onto Hoover Street. Another group of officers rushed ahead of the crowd, restricting the exit paths of student attendees. Several students reported being pushed by LAPD officers even as they were attempting to organize students to exit peacefully.

Like many other recent episodes of police intervention, this incident is notable not only for the level of force used, but also for selective enforcement — targeting a particular segment of the student population, which has often been students of color. Officer Carlyle was one of the officers who responded to a house party on 37th Place, which involved the LAPD's use of riot gear on the college student crowd. That same night, another house party was taking place directly across the street, and while Officer Carlyle said he responded to that party as well, it remained at near capacity though the amplified music was turned down. Via this distinction, I became aware of a marked cultural and ethnic difference in “turn-up” culture. At black parties, people come expecting to dance. Unfortunately, these days it seems that throwing a school dance is enough to call in a SWAT team.

The LAPD arrested several party-goers. (Rikiesha Pierce)
The LAPD arrested several party-goers. (Rikiesha Pierce)
During the LAPD's response to the party on May 3, one student reportedly assaulted an officer while being apprehended, though this claim has been subjected to investigation following the submission of video evidence suggesting the contrary. Another student suffered severe lacerations to his face while being tackled to the floor by six police officers. This student was not resisting arrest, but was detained for “standing too closely to a police vehicle.” Yet another party-goer suffered severe cuts to his arms, shoulders and wrists after several officers converged to disable him for restraining another friend who was being detained by officers. One girl suffered multiple lacerations on her chest and neck after an officer assaulted her from behind.

Students are calling the incident racially motivated and looking to campus leadership for answers and support. Several students resorted to social media to document the event. Footage from Friday night has been circulated throughout the United States, with one YouTube video garnering more than 7,000 views after being posted Friday night.

Student leaders have organized an event to facilitate a discussion among the LAPD, DPS, the Black Student Assembly (BSA) and the USC Taskforce about the unequal treatment of USC students based on race. They are also requesting the assistance of the public to consolidate footage taken of the incident.

If you captured any footage from either of the parties on Friday night, of an interaction with the LAPD, or of pertinent evidence of excessive force that you would like to contribute, please post it on all your social media sites, including Facebook and Twitter. (In addition, you can email the footage here or here.) Spread the word. Blog about your experience. You have the power to expose the conditions of institutionalized racism.

Friday, May 3, was the last day of classes at USC. It was the day after the university's famed “fountain run.” It was one of the highest points of my undergraduate career at USC. I finished my senior honors thesis on hip-hop feminism, was recognized as a leader in community service among my peers and toasted my final day as an undergraduate student.

Despite all the triumphs I celebrated, that night was a real reminder that no matter how much I accomplish in my life, to some people I will always be just another mad black woman facing off with law enforcement.


Guest Contributor Rikiesha Pierce is the President of SOLID USC. Reach her here; follow her here.



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