Photos by Razan Al Marzouqi
More than 100 students gathered in front of Tommy Trojan for a sit-in Monday afternoon in response to events early Saturday morning at a student party, in which six USC students were detained by the Los Angeles Police Department.
Approximately at 2 a.m., more than 79 LAPD officers responded to a noise complaint at a student party early Saturday morning on 23rd and Hoover streets, just north of campus.
From noon to 4 p.m., students sat in the rain, holding signs that read “79 LAPD Officers” and “There is power in solidarity” and showed images from the Saturday morning response.
Tyler Hicks, a junior majoring in international relations and minoring in fine arts, was one of three students who organized the sit-in.
“I organized this event in response to an incident that happened this weekend on Saturday morning and also because of incidents that have happened in the past,” Hicks said.
Nate Howard, a senior majoring communication, was the host of the party, which celebrated the end of the school year. Howard said that when the LAPD came to his house, he complied accordingly.
“Two o’clock came, LAPD came and immediately told us to shut the party down and we did,” Howard said. “As students of color, we know that whenever LAPD comes, we’re out.”
Howard said he feels he was not treated with respect by the officers and that they acted with unnecessary force.
“Now one of the officers came and confronted me, pushing me out — I know my rights,” Howard said. “When he realized that he couldn’t take advantage of me as he does probably the other black men in this community, he felt a certain way … so he pushed me and another officer pushed me, and I was handcuffed.”
Many attended the sit-in to show solidarity with their fellow students. Jessica Flores, a freshman majoring in communication who witnessed the events at the party and attended the protest in support, agreed that the actions by the LAPD was excessive.
“It was a completely innocent party. Just a bunch of people getting together celebrating and the fact that there was a white party across the street and they didn’t say anything to that party — I think that’s wrong and present-day racism,” Flores said.
Protest organizers said they hope that students will begin to take notice the power they have to change these types of situations. During the sit-in students chanted “create our world.”
Rikiesha Pierce, a senior majoring in sociology who also helped to organize the event, said the sit-in was also amplified by the students’ use of social media.
“What I could say about this is that students are recognizing their power,” Pierce said.
“This is huge because people pulled out their cameras out and took photographs and put them on Instagram and tweeted about it and put it on Facebook.”
The university responded to the incident Monday morning. Vice President for Student Affairs Michael Jackson said the university seeks to address the concerns of the students involved.
“We have heard from many students who are upset with the events of early Saturday morning at an off-campus party,” Jackson said in a statement. “We understand their concern and are working closely with them, and commit ourselves to doing all we can to ensure respectful treatment of student at peaceful social gatherings.”
The LAPD has launched a full investigation regarding the incident.
A forum discussion between DPS and the LAPD will be held tomorrow at 6 p.m. in the Ronald Tutor Campus Center Ballroom.