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USC students claim racial profiling by LAPD at house party

Los Angeles police officers apprehend a partygoer at a USC house party early Saturday, May 4, 2013.
May 5, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
A protest is scheduled at USC Monday in response to what some students claim is a blatant case of racial profiling on behalf of Los Angeles police.

The demonstration stems from a weekend graduation party where black students say an overwhelming number of officers used excessive force to shut them down. They say officers overacted because the students were African-American.

Part of the incident, which resulted in six arrests, was caught on camera.

Student Nate Howard hosted the party near Hoover and W. 23rd streets Friday night to celebrate his upcoming graduation. He said he took precautions, including registering the event with USC's Department of Public Safety and hiring security.

At around 2 a.m. Saturday, the Los Angeles Police Department responded to a radio call of two parties on W. 23rd Street.

"When police arrived and told us to disperse, most students were leaving. But they came with excessive force pushing all of us out," Howard said.

Howard said students felt attacked. He was one of the people arrested by the dozens of officers who arrived. The LAPD said the scene warranted a large response because officers were attempting to disperse a crowd of about 400 partygoers. Officials said an officer sent out a distress call after partygoers allegedly threw objects at officers.

Some students claim the partygoers were leaving peacefully, accusing LAPD of overreacting.

"Everybody at the party at this point is upset," Howard said, "but no bottles or anything are thrown, as they're saying."

Howard's neighbor, USC student Tommy Fleming, was also hosting a loud party at the same time. Fleming said the LAPD left his guests alone. He said he believes the LAPD racially profiled the party goers across the street.

"They shut their party down with cops in riot gear and people were Tased, people were arrested and I just feel really bad that we've been able to have parties here and they've gotten shut down," Fleming said. "I think pretty much purely because we're a bunch of white kids hanging out here and they're a bunch of black kids hanging out there."

USC officials have not commented on the incident.

Some students said they plan to meet with the LAPD on Tuesday to discuss the incident.

"The students that are going to show up to this event are going to have seen that video and they're pretty much disgusted with what happened," said Lamar Gary, who shot the footage.

Other students said they will have a sit-in between noon and 4 p.m. Monday at Tommy Trojan on campus.


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