EXPOSITION PARK (CBSLA.com) — USC students filled a campus auditorium Tuesday, voicing frustration and demanding answers from police and campus security after a party’s shutdown Sunday morning ended with six students arrested and allegations of racial profiling.
“I say no, we are not powerless,” student leader Rikiesha Pierce said to a packed auditorium. “I say this is our school, and we demand answers.”
Los Angeles Police said they are taking the allegation of racial profiling by their officers very seriously.
Commander Bill Scott told the crowd Tuesday that while the LAPD has “serious concerns” about the perception that the police response involved race, “we have looked at this and we do not believe at this point that there’s any indication this was race-based.”
Some students claim that the LAPD treated minority students unfairly when responding to a noise complaint, while a party across the street attended mostly by white students was undisturbed.
Police say they were attacked by the students, who allegedly threw beer bottles at police, prompting them to return in riot gear.
A YouTube video of the incident in the 1200 block of West 23rd Street published by student Lamar Gary shows police in riot gear, armed and ready for a confrontation.
“LAPD attempts to disperse USC students at a college party near the USC campus. Night sticks, Tasers, guns, 79+ LAPD Riot Squad Cops vs. USC students. LAPD stated that they were responding to a noise complaint,” he wrote.
Student Sarah Tither-Kaplan was at the party across the street that did not draw police intervention. Still, she said the incident has her very angry.
“I have never felt more threatened in my life than by the people who are sworn to protect me,” Tither-Kaplan said of the LAPD response. “I feared for my life with the way they were acting.”
Among the issues discussed at the meeting were excessive force and selective enforcement, in addition to the perception of racial profiling.
While the investigation is still ongoing, the LAPD said they have already come up with several recommendations.
One recommendation put forward is training student liaisons with identification to respond to noise complaints before law enforcement is called to the scene.