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Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

USC Students Decry Racial Profiling By Authorities

Paresh Dave, Jeremy Fuster |
May 6, 2013 | 1:14 p.m. PDT


Makiah Green tears up during a sit-in to protest the LAPD's response to shut down a predominately black party. (Aaron Liu/ Neon Tommy)
Makiah Green tears up during a sit-in to protest the LAPD's response to shut down a predominately black party. (Aaron Liu/ Neon Tommy)

Roused by what they said was an excessive police reaction to a loud student party, about 80 USC students gathered around Tommy Trojan on Monday to discuss race and tell their stories of racial profiling by the Los Angeles Police Department as well as USC security officers. Students also shared tales of discrimination by USC administrators, faculty and fellow students.

This discussion was prompted by the early Saturday morning arrest of six USC students after more than six dozen police officers were called in to shut down a house party on West 23rd and Hoover Street, just south of the I-10 Freeway. 

Five students were charged with misdemeanors. Police accused them of throwing beer bottles at officers.

Several professors, T.A.'s and parents attended the sit-in,and participants were repeatedly encouraged to take photos and share them on social media platforms with the hashtag, #USChangeMovement.

Students at the sit-in were encouraged to contact USC President C.L. Max Nikias and demand a response to this issue multiple times throughout the demonstration.

Sit-in participants also discussed other issues on campus, such as sexual violence, homophobia and a student government that lacks in advocating for its student body.

USC senior Nate Howard faces a stiffer penalty for being the host. He's charged with a noise violation, police said. At a noon time gathering at USC's central plaza, the students rallied to draw attention to the incident and what they said was racial profiling. A party across the street, hosted by white students, was not shut down.

(Jeremy Fuster/Neon Tommy)
(Jeremy Fuster/Neon Tommy)

“Our party was predominately Caucasian students and their party was predominately black students, and basically, DPS and LAPD didn’t stop our party at all. They had no problem with us; they didn’t shut us down,” Sarah Tither-Kaplan, who attended the party, told CBS News.

A USC administrator acknowledged the students in a statement Monday.

"We understand their concern and are working closely with them, and commit ourselves to doing all we can to ensure respectful treatment of students at peaceful social gatherings," said Michael Jackson, vice president of Student Affairs. 

The chief of campus police, John Thomas, said the L.A. Police Department had begun an investigation.

"We hope the investigation will address our concerns and those of students involved," Thomas said. "We are in constant communication with senior officers at the LAPD as they discuss solutions to ensure that the response of LAPD to complaints about student parties is properly calibrated." 

Several L.A. Police officials watched the demonstration from afar Monday as the protest closed with chants of "We are SC."



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