EXPOSITION PARK (CBSLA.com) — Some USC students say they were unfairly targeted Sunday morning when LAPD officers broke up a party and arrested several students.
However, police say they were attacked by the students, who maintain they are victims of racial profiling.
A YouTube video of the incident in the 1200 block of West 23rd Street published by student Lamar Gary shows police in riot gear, armed and ready for a confrontation.
"LAPD attempts to disperse USC students at a college party near the USC campus. Night sticks, Tasers, guns, 79+ LAPD Riot Sqaud Cops vs. USC students. LAPD stated that they were responding to a noise complaint," he wrote.
Nate Howard, who hosted the party attended by minority students, said he planned the event not only to celebrate his four years at USC, but also for networking purposes.
"We had fun. We're graduating, and we were having a good time. It was the last day of classes. We had sponsors here," said Howard, who noted things got ugly around 2 a.m.
"Most people were dispersing and leaving. The police came back and told everyone to get out and that's eventually what people started to do until they started to get crazy," he said.
Howard was arrested and he believes it was because of his race. He says another party, attended by mostly white students, was going on across the street at the same time.
"There was also an event across the street. They told them to stay in the house and be safe, while us over here, majority students of color, we were dispersed out of my house and everywhere," he said.
Student Sarah Tither-Kaplan attended the other party, which was allowed to continue.
"Our party was predominately Caucasian students and their party was predominately black students, and basically, DPS and LAPD didn't stop our party at all. They had no problem with us; they didn't shut us down," she said.
An LAPD watch commander confirms the department received a noise complaint about Howard's party. He said party-goers refused to leave and threw beer bottles at arriving officers, which prompted them to return in riot gear, a charge Howard denies.
The LAPD would not comment on the incident, which is under investigation.
In a blog post titled "I'm A Scholar, Not A Criminal: The Plight Of Black Students At USC," student Makiah Green wrote, "Instead of studying for the last final of my undergraduate career, I am writing this letter in protest of the University of Southern California's latest atrocity. Last night, students gathered at a house near campus to celebrate their completion of another rigorous school year. Many attendees were graduating seniors. Almost all attendees were minority students: African-American and Latino."
She said six of her friends spent the night in jail. The entire incident, she charged, "reeks of racial profiling."
Green is one of many students calling on her classmates to attend a sit-in at Tommy Trojan on Monday from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.
The LAPD, USC's Department Of Public Safety (DPS) and the student group SOLID USC announced a forum on racial profiling will be held Tuesday at 6 p.m. at the USC Ronald Tutor Campus Center Ballroom.
More than 1,700 students have also signed a petition to end racial profiling at the school.
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