Many members of the USC community voiced their concern following the May 4 incident in which the Los Angeles Police Department shut down a party with mostly black students near campus and arrested six students. Activists dubbed their cause the #USChangeMovement, but unfortunately, this movement, like many others, has seen very little change and has begun to lose its steam.
But USChange cannot become another mere memory such as Occupy Wall Street or Kony 2012 with its hashtag buried in some Twitter graveyard. The pioneers of USChange should sit down and bring greater clarity and focus to the path of the movement.
On May 6, more than 100 students gathered around Tommy Trojan to protest the actions of the LAPD during a Saturday night party. The face-to-face meeting conducted with police officers on May 8 drew more than 750 people, with many waiting outside.
But what has happened since? Some media sources continue to chatter over the fate of the six students arrested. Talks between students and authorities have occurred in order to facilitate discussions about patterns of abuse at the hands of those who are attempting to protect us.
But USChange is falling off the radar. With such an important purpose — to eradicate prejudice from Los Angeles — this movement cannot afford to fade away now.
Today, USChange boasts 1,809 members on its Facebook group, which serves as a forum for discussion about the incident. The page, however, has started to lose its tenacity — fewer and fewer posts are seen each day.
The page credits ’13 alumna Rikiesha Pierce for spearheading the movement. Pierce has served as an incredible face of the cause by patiently answering press questions and uniting a community in a time of distress with her inspiring words.
“Now we have the opportunity to begin a dialogue about the realities of racial profiling and the university’s role in providing a safe environment for its students,” Pierce told the Summer Trojan. “It’s critical to ensure that these students are exonerated of any charges and that law enforcement is held accountable for the actions of their officers.”
Whether or not the charges against the USC Six are dropped, the larger issues of racism and police brutality in the community remain. Allowing abuse to persist might open the door for a sequel to the 1992 L.A. riots. It is time to devise a new strategy.
A Facebook group isn’t enough to create the substantial impact. Bringing awareness to such issues of racism requires nonviolent demonstrations that range from letter-writing campaigns to meetings with congressional officials.
Steps can start small — such as reviving USChange’s social media platforms — and snowball into larger actions such as creating a task force to monitor daily progress.
USChange should develop a fully functional website that is constantly updated with enriching information. Causes such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving have found a way to turn singular purposes into full-fledged organizations — these movements could serve as inspiration. Building an on-campus club could also be another viable option because real gains require an organized structure of monthly meetings and minutes.
Created in a time of need, USChange must go on for the benefit of future generations until the day that the job is done.
Rini Sampath is a sophomore majoring in international relations (global business).