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The USC campus was briefly put on lockdown Monday night following a large contingent of protesters marching near the university on Figueroa Street. The demonstrators were protesting following a Missouri grand jury decision to not indict police officer Darren Wilson in the fatal Aug. 9 shooting of black teenager Michael Brown.
The campus lockdown occurred from roughly 10:00 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. All university gates were closed, and students were not allowed to enter or exit campus.
The protest began in the Leimert Park section of Los Angeles after the grand jury decision was announced at approximately 6:30 p.m. Dept. of Public Safety Captain Ed Palmer and Chief John Thomas were in attendance monitoring the situation prior to the grand jury announcement.
“Captain Palmer and I, we both were at Leimert Park. The crowd was peaceful protesting, and they decided to walk,” Thomas said. “It just got bigger, a lot bigger.”
As the protest grew, it marched in the direction of USC. The demonstrations eventually reached the southeast border of campus at the intersection of Exposition Boulevard and Figueroa Street shortly before 10 p.m.
DPS had prior preparations to conduct a modified closure of campus if demonstrators approached the university, according to Deputy Chief David Carlisle. Thomas also mentioned that extra officers were dispatched around campus in order to prevent potential vandalism and trespassing of campus grounds.
Some students who were stuck on campus expressed discontent with the lockdown.
“I thought it was pretty frustrating because it was a peaceful protest and they were locking us down on campus as a form of protection,” said Jennifer Binley, a senior majoring in international relations who was in the Ronald Tutor Campus Center when the lockdown began. “I thought it was kind of ridiculous because it’s going to be an important part of our history and the fact they weren’t letting us see it or even let us participate was frustrating.”
But not all students were kept from the march. Passing protesters were heard chanting “out of the dorms and into the streets” as they passed nearby off-campus apartments, and some USC students joined the demonstration. One student participant, Jon Sine, said he was there to demonstrate unity with the marchers.
“I’m tired of police brutality, and I want to show solidarity,” Sine said, who is a junior majoring in political economy. “This isn’t a one race issue, this is an issue for all within the United States.”
As of press time at 11:30 p.m. Nov. 24, the protesters had moved to the Interstate 110 freeway.
Jordyn Holman and Joseph Chen contributed to this report.