Over 70 LAPD Officers Show Up In Riot Gear To USC Party, Leading To Charges Of Racial Profiling
USC students celebrated the end of finals with a party this weekend that ended when dozens of LAPD officers showed up, some of them in full riot gear with batons, shields and masks.
The LAPD response early Saturday morning to a party of mostly black and latino students has stirred controversy on campus at a time when minority students are especially wary of racial profiling.
LAPD officers arrived at the scene of the party near 23rd and Hoover Streets—which is about a half-mile north of campus—around 2 am on Saturday morning. There was a noise complaint about a party being hosted by a graduating student, according to campus paper The Daily Trojan. Party-goers were reportedly required to show their student ID to a security guard to get into the party, and most of the attendees were minority students.
What happened next is in dispute. Students at the party said that they responded peacefully and cooperatively to LAPD officers that showed up to address the noise complaint. The Department of Public Safety told The Trojan that students responded by pelting them with objects.
Officers at the scene sent out a distress call, and dozens of officers—some said nearly 80—responded:
Several USC students were detained, and we've contacted USC to find out how many of the arrested were students.
Freshman Emily Rosenfield was at another party across the street and she said the LAPD's response was overblown: "I definitely think it's an overreaction. Instead of [the Department of Public Safety] shutting down the party, LAPD had to come. It's just too excessive and it's not something that has to be done."
This isn't the first time LAPD cops have shown up in riot gear to break up a party. Watch Commander Sgt. Efrain Tigao alluded to this in a statement to The Trojan: "[I]t is not unusual, on a weekend night in this area, for officers to be in riot gear." In 2008, over a hundred cops in riot gear showed up to break up a massive party off-campus at USC.
But students on campus are concerned that parties hosted by minority students are being unfairly targeted by LAPD. Last month, cops showed up in riot gear to deal with a noise complaint at another party hosted by minority students, leading to charges of racial profiling.
One graduating student, Makiah Green, says that life on campus has been difficult for minority students since strict, new security guidelines were created in response to recent shootings on and near campus, including when someone was shot at a Halloween party hosted by the Black Student Assembly this fall. She writes:
Since the three most recent shootings, all triggered by non-USC affiliated Black males, that occurred on and around USC, there has been an increased presence of LAPD and other security forces around campus. Amid the tense racial climate that followed, I patiently endured the ignorant comments, racist blog posts and suspicious stares, but the intolerance has reached a new high. Six of my friends spent the night in jail.
To be clear, I do not have a problem with increased protection or security. Who’s to say that a shooting won’t occur at the next student party? It could happen, God forbid, and I understand why USC wants to be prepared. My issue lies within the selective surveillance of minority-hosted parties, as if crimes only happen among high concentrations of melanin. Hundreds of criminal offenses, including sexual harassment, rape and assault happen every Thursday night on Greek Row, a undeniably white establishment. Yet, the culprits of the Department of Public Safety Crime Reports distributed to USC students and faculty, seem to be strictly limited to Black and Latino males (6’2-6’5 in dark hoodies). These reports, together with the newly constructed, other-izing gates around campus, have instilled an unhealthy amount of fear in students, administrators and safety officials. We have been trained to double check for USC logos on the sweatshirts of minority males on and around this campus to make sure that they’re “one of us.” It doesn’t surprise me that LAPD has adopted the same attitude. For them, it has been this way for decades.
Students have planned a protest on Monday from noon until 4 pm at Tommy Trojan. The LAPD and DPS are holding an open forum Tuesday at 6 pm at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism to discuss racial profiling, The Trojan reports.
LA Streetsblog did a piece on how the new security guidelines at USC have affected young minorities off-campus.