UPDATE: Photos from the scene, courtesy of USC student Christopher James.
Multiple USC students were detained after approximately 70+ Los Angeles Police Department officers responded to a noise complaint at a student party early Saturday morning on 23rd and Hoover streets, according to several student accounts.
At approximately 2 a.m., the LAPD officers arrived at the home of a graduating student after an LAPD officer sent out a distress call. The distress call was triggered because some students at the party began throwing objects at LAPD officers that came to the scene, according to Dept. of Public Safety Capt. David Carlisle.
This contradicts student reports that attendees were peaceful and cooperative, and it is still unclear exactly why such a large police force was called. Officers wore riot gear, including shields and masks, and were holding batons. Helicopters also flew around the area.
Updated on May 5th at 6:00 P.M.
Sgt. Sterling of the LAPD Southwest Division said at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday that USC students arrested at the event have been released from custody and charged.
“To the best of my knowledge, they are no longer in custody.”
DPS was not involved in the response, according to Carlisle, but videos of the incident clearly show DPS officers at the scene. Chief John Thomas is currently working with LAPD to address the incident, Carlisle said. The Southwest Division of LAPD did not confirm details.
“We do not have a statement, but it is not unusual, on a weekend night in this area, for officers to be in riot gear,” said Watch Commander Sgt. Efrain Tigao.
The media relations office of the LAPD, meanwhile, said they had no record of the incident occurring. According to the office, they only have reports of “newsworthy” events.
The majority of party attendees were affiliated with the university. To enter the party, students were required to show their student I.D. to security guards outside of the house, according to several students.
Videos posted on YouTube and other social media sites show officers lined up across 23rd Street, blocking entry. Many students said that the police redirected their path back to campus and did not allow them to walk toward their cars.
Tyler Hicks, a junior majoring in international relation and minoring in fine arts who left the party before the officers arrived, said that the response by the LAPD was unwarranted.
“It was the first time that night we were told there was a problem,” Hicks said. “I know the university doesn’t want any more negative press, but there’s a line between regulating college events and handling what’s happening on campus.”
Some students who did not attend the party also responded to the night’s events. Emily Rosenfield, a freshman majoring in studio and jazz guitar who attended a party across the street, said the police’s reaction was not fitting.
“I definitely think it’s an overreaction,” Rosenfield said. “Instead of [the Department of Public Safety] shutting down the party, LAPD had to come. It’s just too excessive and it’s not something that has to be done.”
Students said that the most jarring part of the incident was the randomness of it.
“It could have been any of us,” Hicks said. “If I had been there still it could have easily been me calling my parents from jail.”
In response, students have planned a sit-in from 12 to 4 p.m. on Monday at Tommy Trojan. The LAPD and DPS are holding an open forum on Tuesday at 6 p.m. in the Ronald Tutor Campus Center Ballroom to discuss racial profiling.