USC: Is racism still alive?

This week we welcome new MMXLII guest correspondent Tarik Ross, Jr. A senior at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona majoring in Communication/Public Relations, Tarik gives us an overview of the unfolding controversy around recent alleged racial profiling on the USC campus. 

 

In the past few days, there has been a lot of talk about the University of Southern California (USC). The campus is located in the heart of Southern Los Angeles, often referred to as South Central, known for it’s heavy gang presence.  In recent years, the campus itself has experienced much turmoil: including unmerited deaths, various shootings and alleged racial tension.

 

USC students claim that they were racially profiled by LAPD in a recent incident to what they say was totally unnecessary. On Friday evening, there were several parties hosted by USC students to celebrate this year’s 2013 graduates. According to the report from the Huffington Post around 2 a.m. Saturday morning, 79 LAPD officers in riot gear shut down a party hosted by Nate Howard, a graduating communication student at the university. A total of six students were arrested and some were tased as police officers cleared out the party of about 400 guests, who were predominately African-American students. Another party across the street from the emptied house with about the same amount of students was not affected.

Another report from CBS featured USC student Sarah Tither-Kaplan, who attended the other party. “Our party was predominately Caucasian students and their party was predominately black students, and basically, DPS (Department of Public Safety) and LAPD didn’t stop our party at all. They had no problem with us; they didn’t shut us down,” she said. This incident was the last straw for many students on campus who experienced a similar incident earlier this year on April 12, “when nine LAPD squad cars filled with officers dressed in riot gear showed [up to] shut down a party hosted by students of color.”

These extreme measures may be a result of the many incidents that the campus community has experienced within the last year. Last April, two Chinese graduate students who were sitting in their car, were shot to death, only one mile from campus. Only a week later, four USC students were robbed at gunpoint. Campus police encountered and shot the suspect before making the arrest. According to the Daily Trojan following these two events, Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck stated at a press conference in , “30 police officers have been added to LAPD’s Southwest Division, which serves the USC area, in addition to four officers and a detective specifically for USC.” However, with intentions on making the university safer, many students of color feel as though they have been treated as “the enemy” of the campus due to these recent events.

“Stop Racial Profiling at USC” is a newly student submitted petition that has received over 3,000 signatures via Change.org, since it’s posting on Saturday. The purpose of the petition is to raise awareness of what students of color are experiencing from the campus’ Department of Public Safety and the LAPD.

The students held a joint-discussion on racial profiling with DPS and LAPD last night in the Annenberg Auditorium. Over 700 students attended the event despite having finals to study for. This does not come as much of a surprise because the night of the event, students took to social media to share their views on what had transpired using the hashtage, #USChangeMovement.

Makiah Green, senior at the university, tells her story the night of the event, in a well-written letter that she posted on her blog.

Here’s also video filmed by one of the students during the incident:

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