When police descended on a USC-area house party attended by African American students over the weekend, some were quick to claim racial profiling.
After all, a more white-oriented event across the street didn't elicit the same response, including cops in riot gear. But the LAPD this week put out a different story:
Sgt. Susie Padilla, speaking to the Weekly, emphasized a few key contentions, including that the department was really responding to both parties, that officers came under fire from debris-and-bottle throwers, and that those at the African American party did not comply with orders to shut it down.
Nonetheless, the LAPD's response would be investigated by the department, she said. At the same time, police brass, including Captain Paul Snell of the Southwest Division Chief John Thomas of USC's Department of Public Safety planned to meet with concerned students at 6 p.m. tonight at the Ronald Tutor Campus Center.
Padilla said that cops were called to both parties based on noise complains sometime after 2 a.m. Saturday and that the first residence to receive officers' request to shut down was the black party.
Police then went to the event across the street and made the same request, she said. During that time the first party's music went back up and officers returned only to be met by resistance and debris and bottles, she said.
That prompted a back-up call, and some of the arriving officers were prepared with helmets and batons, Padilla said.
USC public safety officers also responded.
In fact, Padilla says, police don't know if those who misbehaved came from one or the other party:
There's two parties going on, the music shut down, and people were starting to leave. A lot of people were gathering in the street.
Six people were arrested, including one on suspicion of felony interfering with police, one on suspicion of misdemeanor interfering and four for allegedly failing to disperse, Padilla said.
The LAPD has fielded formal complaints about its response Saturday and will investigate, police said.
One witness told the Weekly that police have broken up four other parties this semester — all, apparently, in the wake of a Halloween-party shooting last year that prompted tighter security measures on campus.
Michael Jackson, USC's vice president of student affairs, issued a statement that reads, in part:
We have heard from many students who are upset with the events of early Saturday morning at an off-campus party. We understand their concern and are working closely with them and commit ourselves to doing all we can to ensure respectful treatment of students at peaceful social gatherings.
[Clarification at 1:22 p.m. on May 8]: The LAPD's Padilla wants to make clear that she never referred to any of the parties as having predominantly African American patrons. Those descriptors — “black party,” et. al. — were entirely our own, added to make the facts clear to our readers. Padilla simply referred to the events as party 1 and party 2.