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This month, Dr. Dre announced that he would give $35 million dollars to the University of Southern California (USC). The decision was met with questions from Dr. Walter Kimbrough, president of Dillard University, who wondered why Dr. Dre had not considered making his donation to an HBCU.
The questions become even more poignant in light of complaints from USC students about racial profiling occurring on campus. During a recent campus party, the LAPD sent nearly 80 police officers in riot gear with a helicopter to break up an event that was full of African Americans. The police were responding to noise complaints and are not known to have ever responded with this much force to a white party on campus. Even the white students at a similar party across the street were stunned to see their fellow students in handcuffs.
USC senior Nate Howard helped to organize the party and during protests, questioned what the police were doing.
“Seventy-plus officers?” he said. “What else was going on at that time in the community that you needed to be at a party of students getting ready to graduate?”
Howard claims that several students were handcuffed and detained and six were arrested. The students there say that the event was peaceful, registered with campus police, and student IDs were checked at the door. He said that there were no fights and no guns. While the LAPD is subject to the most scrutiny, local police typically must coordinate with campus security when dealing with university gatherings.
“And here we have LAPD who are still trying to make us live in 1963!” Howard said. “Brothers like me go to college, they go to college, they look like me, they look like us! Here we are!”
About 100 students protested on campus after the incident, holding up signs that said, “We are scholars not criminals.”
A panel of LAPD officers and USC campus police addressed about 1,200 students who’d gathered for a town hall-style meeting about the incident.
“What I’d like to do before we move forward is really address the race issue,” said LAPD Captain Paul Snell.
“We have looked at this and we do not believe that this was race-based,” he said.
Snell says that when officers responded to the noise complaint, they felt threatened. That’s when they called for backup. But some of the white students in attendance spoke up, stating that the incident was all about racism.
Sarah Tither-Kaplan, a senior at USC, said she was holding a party right across the street, and that none of her friends were harassed or arrested.
“My house was treated with respect and the only difference between the two parties was that racial component. And if you’re going to deny that, then I’m sorry, I’m just not going to stand for it,” said Tither-Kaplan.
When he asked the question, nearly every person in the room raised their hands.
“We take that seriously and that really matters to us,” Scott said. “And the hands that I saw were white hands, black hands, brown hands, everybody in the room. So that means something to us.”
The LAPD is no stranger to racial controversy. Just two months ago, former LAPD officer Christopher Dorner led police on a manhunt after using violence in retaliation to racism that he felt led to him being fired from the force. Since that time, other officers have come forward to say that Dorner’s allegations were accurate.