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USC students protest LAPD handling of parties

May 6, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Some University of Southern California students are claiming racial profiling in the way police broke up a pair of parties over the weekend.

Some students held a sit-in near Tommy Trojan on campus Monday to protest what they believe was racial profiling on the part of police.

Video shot on one student's iPhone shows Los Angeles police officers lined up along 23rd and Hoover streets near the campus of USC. The student says police were there to break up his friend's graduation party after responding to a noise complaint.

The party was attended by primarily African-American students from the university. Police moved in and arrested about six students.

Monday some of the partygoers attended a sit-in on the campus of USC to protest what they say was unjust treatment by police.

"I definitely think there is racial profiling because two parties were going on at the same time and they both had USC students except for one had predominately USC white students and one predominately USC black students," said one student Monday.

"It was the most blatant racial injustice I have ever been unfortunate enough to see," said student Will O'Meara.

O'Meara says he witnessed police move in to disperse the party across the street from the one he attended, which was mostly white.

"For me and my white friends hanging out in this house to be told, 'You stay back while we clear out a party' that's exactly the same save the color of the people partying there -- that was just, that was too much," said O'Meara.

Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck spoke about the police response.

"We made contact with the individuals who claimed responsibility for these parties, asked them to shut it down, just as all of you would like in your neighborhood, and these were residential neighborhoods, these were not frat row parties. One of the parties did not comply and officers had to disperse individuals. There were some items thrown at the police and because of that and other reasons some arrests were made," said Beck.

Nate Howard addressed his fellow students at the sit-in. It was his graduation party that was shut down by police. Howard was also was one of several students arrested.

"So he pushed me, another officer pushed me and I was handcuffed," said Howard. "At the same time my other brothers and sisters, my white brothers and sisters were having a party across the street. They told them to stay in the house and be safe, that they were going to handle us across the street, as if we were the problem."

USC Vice President Michael Jackson released a statement: "We have heard from many students who are upset with the events of early Saturday morning at an off-campus party. 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."

Some of the students who were part of the sit-in say they will be meeting this week with police to talk about what happened and how to avoid it in the future.

Police officials say the incident was under investigation. Police said one officer was injured in the chaos.


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