Target: Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) Chief Charlie Beck
Goal: Convince the LAPD to take stricter action in avoiding racial profiling and discretion to better serve the community’s safety needs.
‘I’m a scholar, not a criminal,’ a minority student cries. Los Angeles police officers targeted minority students who were celebrating their upcoming graduation at the University of Southern California. These students were predominantly African-Americans and Latinos. Adjacent to their party was another party of mainly Caucasian students which the police did not disperse threateningly as it did with the minority group.
The police used unnecessarily extreme means to disperse the party after answering a noise complaint. An estimated 79 or more officers arrived readily armed and dressed in riot gear. Many minority students were scared, having never been confronted by the police in such a manner. They were students, well-educated, ambitious young men and women who had dedicated their lives to excelling academically within the prestigious campus of USC. Now they had been arrested, wrongfully criminalized amidst sudden chaos. The methods that the LAPD sought to deal with this simple college party were unacceptable. Furthermore, the police had told the adjacent party of mainly white students to stay inside and be safe, rather than attempt to disperse it as well.
College parties can be unruly, but they rarely pose a threat great enough to call for an army of police officers. Sexual assaults and other criminal offenses occur often on the predominantly white Greek row. Yet this party of African Americans and Latinos receives this treatment as a result of a noise complaint. The history of the LAPD has been tainted with racial profiling and discrimination. Though it has endured reforms, these police officers must be subject to even stricter action to ensure they use their authoritative powers to better the community rather than distress minority students. Those scholars must now worry about this impact upon their futures, rather than study for their final exams and enjoy graduation.
Dear Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck,
Racial profiling and police discretion must be subject to stricter action within the Los Angeles Police Department.
The extreme methods of dispersing a graduation party of minority college students at the University of Southern California were particularly worrisome. College parties can be unruly, but hardly necessary for 79 police officers dressed in riot gear to confront. Furthermore, the predominantly Caucasian party of students nearby was not subject to this unnecessary treatment. The psychological effects upon these victimized African-American and Latino students will be permanent. Already, these scholars continue to worry about what such treatment has to mean for their race, instead of studying for their finals, and enjoying the last moments of their undergraduate careers.
Such unfortunate incidents continue to happen, whether in Los Angeles or throughout our nation. It is only fortunate that this particular one involves college students who have better means to speak out and be heard. Other minority citizens may not have had as much of luck in dealing with racial profiling and police discretion, which we know is still around today.
I urge you to take the first steps in implementing stricter action to avoid such discrimination actions within the police force. As philosopher Dr. Stephen Nathanson notes, ‘discrimination need not be purposeful or deliberate.’ But it still happens and that must be changed.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Christopher James via makiahisms.com