The Los Angeles Police Department is under fire for allegedly profiling University of Southern California students of color at a house party. YouTube footage shows 79 police officers descending on an off-campus gathering thrown by black students to celebrate the end of the semester.
Officers cited noise violations as their reason for coming to the residence, but mayhem ensued when the police arrived. Six USC students were cuffed and one LAPD officer was hospitalized with minor injuries.
The incident rouses the race and racism conversation at USC, so the LAPD is quelling the tension with an internal investigation.
LAPD Lt. Andy Neiman, a department spokesman, confirmed the investigation to NBC 4 in Los Angeles.
“We will investigate those complaints vigorously,” he said. “If there is a perception that something was done out of the ordinary or a perception of biased policing, we certainly want to address those concerns right away.”
Students present at the party recount intimidation and excessive forced used against them.
Nate Howard, a USC senior, alleges he was handcuffed and put in a squad car after asking officers what the problem was.
“There was no reason for me to be handcuffed, pushed the way I was,” he said. “We were just having a good time.”
Another student, Ola Bayode, claims six officers grabbed him and threw him to the floor. He was also cuffed and removed from the party.
“Yeah, I resisted a little bit,” he said. “I was just taken aback by their aggressive manner.”
The LAPD arrived at the 23rd and Hoover streets residence at 2 a.m.
Howard claims the police were responding to a party hosted by white students on the same block, but told those students to remain “inside the house and stay safe” while they approached the party hosted by black students.
Howard was one of the organizers of the finals week celebration and alleges he had a permit to host the party.
Michael Jackson, the vice president of student affairs USC, told NBC4 the college is working with students and law enforcement to reach a plausible resolution.
“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,” he said.
More than 100 students gathered at the campus’ Tommy Trojan statue to protest their treatment at the party. Some held signs reading “Stop Criminalizing Us” while others chanted “Create your own world.”
The college has also organized a May 7 community meeting to discuss the incident and explore possible solutions.