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Students utilize social media in protest of arrests

first_imgIn response to the arrests of six USC students following a house party earlier this month, organizers have formed a social media movement to protest the allegedly racist treatment at the hands of the Los Angeles Police Department.The LAPD launched a full investigation into the incident on May 6.Stand Up· Nate Howard (right), a ‘13 alumnus, talks at a May 6 protest about his experience at the hands of the Los Angeles Police Department during a protest on May 6. Along with five other students, Howard was arrested. – Razan Al Marzouqi | Daily TrojanAt approximately 2 a.m. on May 3, more than 79 LAPD officers responded to a noise complaint at a student party on 23rd and Hoover streets, just north of campus.Nate Howard, a ‘13 alumnus, hosted the party to celebrate the end of the school year.Howard said he complied with LAPD’s directions when officers came to the house.“Two o’clock came, LAPD came and immediately told us to shut the party down and we did,” Howard said in an impassioned speech at the rally. “As students of color, we know that whenever LAPD comes, we’re out.”Howard said he feels he was not treated with respect by the officers and that they acted with unnecessary force.“Now one of the officers came and confronted me, pushing me out — I know my rights,” Howard said. “When he realized that he couldn’t take advantage of me as he does probably the other black men in this community, he felt a certain way … so he pushed me and another officer pushed me, and I was handcuffed.”Three students organized a protest in front of Tommy Trojan on May 6, and a forum between students, faculty and the LAPD occurred May 7.Many attended the sit-in on campus to show solidarity with their fellow students. Jessica Flores, a sophomore majoring in communication who witnessed the events at the party and attended the protest in support, agreed that the actions by the LAPD were excessive.“It was a completely innocent party. Just a bunch of people getting together celebrating, and the fact that there was a white party across the street and they didn’t say anything to that party — I think that’s wrong and present-day racism,” Flores said.President C. L. Max Nikias released a statement on May 8 responding to the events at the party. He said he has been receiving updates from his senior staff since early after the incident.“I had complete confidence in my leaders as they fully briefed me in advance on their discussions with student leaders and the plan for last night’s forum,” Nikias said in the statement. “I was pleased that there was an opportunity for an open dialogue and for people to express concerns.”Nikias said that he remains optimistic about the future relationship between the university and its students.“We are confident we will move ahead from this issue in an even more productive and positive manner,” Nikias said.At the forum, students and the parents of the arrested students spent an hour giving testimonies of their experiences the night of the incident. They expressed their love for the university but also their desire for DPS and LAPD to respond sincerely to their concerns. During the forum, some students shouted ask about Nikias’ whereabouts.Evan Vujovich, a senior majoring in music industry who lives in the house across the street that hosted a party at the same time, said that the police did not address his party first.“Our party ended but we were not asked to disperse, we were not asked to go home, we were not pushed out of our party that was also peaceful,” Vujovich said. “Our party was equally loud, had at least as many people and our party wasn’t even registered with DPS.”Protest organizers said they hope that students will begin to take notice of the power they have to change these types of situations. During the sit-in, students chanted “Create our world.”Rikiesha Pierce, a recently graduated sociology major who helped organize the event, said the sit-in was amplified by the students’ use of social media.“What I could say about this is that students are recognizing their power,” Pierce said. “This is huge because people pulled out their cameras and took photographs and put them on Instagram and tweeted about it and put it on Facebook.”Jason Sneed, a graduate majoring in philosophy, politics and law and one of the students who was arrested, addressed the social media movement that helped gather interest in the event. The hashtag #USChangeMovement was a trending topic in the Los Angeles area on Twitter while the forum was still in progress.“We’re here today based off of Facebook, emails and Twitter,” Sneed said. “If we can create a movement based on social media, how much more powerful can we be?”last_img read more