‘Care Not Cops’ rally calls for justice for Love

Protesters stand holding signs.
Kayla Love and Khari Jones Jr. spoke about the four “unethical” wellness checks conducted on them after the birth of their daughter and promoted their petition at the protest. (Sasha Ryu | Daily Trojan)

Nearly 40 students and activists gathered outside Tommy Trojan Wednesday for a “Care Not Cops Rally” to protest the Department of Public Safety’s treatment of Kayla Love and her fiancé, Khari Jones Jr., marching to USC Village holding signs reading “Abolish DPS” and “Divest and Reinvest.” Protesters criticized DPS’ conduct with Love and spoke about long standing concerns regarding racism students experience at the hands of DPS.

On June 27, the day Love gave birth to her daughter, 10 Los Angeles Police Department and DPS officers and a social worker showed up at her on-campus family housing unit, claiming to be conducting a wellness check. 

Tensions rose when the wellness check, which Love said officers did not provide a reason for, escalated as officers drew weapons in the couples’ apartment, according to them. Love, a graduate student studying chemistry, and Jones have since spoken out about the incident and the three subsequent officer visits, calling the conduction of the wellness checks unethical and a breach of privacy. 

Protestors stood in a circle next to the water fountain at USC Village and shared experiences of instances with DPS that have been “potentially harmful to their lives,” as well as their feelings about Love’s incident. 

Effa Fouda, a freshman majoring in business administration, said in an interview with the Daily Trojan that hearing about the incident with Love was “one of the first introductions to the life of a person of color at USC” when he first joined the Black Students Assembly.

“It was really heartbreaking and kind of overwhelming to hear about the potential of living at a campus where the subjugation of Black people is a daily occurrence and can happen at any moment in time,” Fouda said. 

Fouda said he and his friends have already had negative experiences with DPS, and he hopes USC reallocates money from DPS into programs that support “minority groups on campus,” ultimately advancing toward the organization’s abolishment.

One of the attendees, Laila Hassell, said she came to show support for Love and to demonstrate the growing frustration with the University’s lack of response to the incident, even five months later.

“It’s just been stressful and honestly, disheartening, just the fact that nothing has happened yet,” said Hassell, a junior majoring in design. “USC hasn’t said anything. [The couple hasn’t] been compensated in any type of way. They haven’t received justice for anything yet.”

During the protest, Love spoke about a petition launched by the couple in October. The petition, which has 1,444 signatures at the time of publication, demands the termination of all parties involved in the check, the provision of reasonable supportive measures such as compensation and the removal of academic holds Love continues to face after the incident. 

Chris Martin, an attorney at law, said he came out to show his “complete support” for Love and Jones and his “complete opposition” to what the couple experienced. Martin said he was very proud of the students taking up Love and Jones’ fight and said he’d like to see more compassion from the administration for the couple and other students who have had similar experiences with DPS.

“What we need, ultimately, is care and not cops,” said Martin, who serves as the director of the legal team for Black Lives Matter Los Angeles. “[University leadership officials] need to not treat their students like they’re suspects, but treat them like they are students, like they are human beings and like, ultimately, their lives matter.”

In a statement to the Daily Trojan, the University wrote that it is aware of the issues Love raised. While the University said it was unable to share details about Love’s situation because of student privacy laws, it is “deeply concerned when any student experiences any kind of trauma.”

Adrian Perez, who spoke at the protest, also expressed discontent with the University’s response to Love and Jones’ interactions with DPS, and with USC’s treatment of Black and brown students. 

“They only care about [Black and brown students] when we’re there to entertain them, or when we’re on their football team, when we’re in their face, when we’re doing good in their classes,” said Perez, a freshman majoring in public policy. “It’s time that we really apply pressure on them.”

Perez said low-income students, as well as Black and brown students, aren’t a priority on campus and that there needs to be greater action from USC to target racial inequality.

“I think that it’s very easy for us to become comfortable with this pain,” Perez said. “I think it’s very easy for us to feel like we’re powerless in the struggle. But I think that we just have to continue fighting.”