On Monday, May 6th, hundreds of students, faculty, parents and community members gathered to mourn and speak out against racial profiling and institutional inequality at the University of Southern California. Before the event began, esteemed student leader, Rikiesha Pierce, climbed a ladder to adorn Tommy Trojan with the graduation sash and honor cords of seniors who were wrongfully arrested last Friday night. Amongst them were Norman Topping Scholars, McNair Scholars, International Student Ambassadors, Presidents of Greek Councils, and repeat offenders…of the Dean’s List. Behind Tommy Trojan, carefully crafted chains of foil handcuffed our beloved statue.
As Rikiesha set-up the vivid display, students burst into tears, fully realizing the impact of the incident my university has yet to publicly acknowledge.
After hearing horrific accounts of verbal abuse, habitual harassment and physical harm all from the batons and slurs of my city’s police department, I understood just how monumental this movement is. The Sit In we held on campus yesterday was not your typical student protest. People of various ethnicities, religions and affiliations to USC spoke out, wept and encouraged one another in a way that I have never seen done before. I cried on numerous occasions, completely shattered by the retellings of blatant racism and injustice against my brothers and sisters. Our testimonies liberated one another, finally allotting us the opportunity to process the pain we’ve been suppressing out of fear of seeming weak.
While hundreds of revolutionaries sat in the rain to share our stories and inspire change that is long overdue on and around this campus, university officials of the past, present and future gathered less than 400ft away for a retirement party.
Above the unwavering denial from LAPD and the failure of DPS to protect students from harm on multiple occasions, my university’s silence has been one of the hardest things for me to deal with. Within the last four days, my team and I have built a movement from the ground up, gaining national media attention and an overwhelming amount of global support for a cause that doesn’t technically exist. Despite the revealing video clips that have acquired hundreds of thousands of views, the poignant photos that symbolically resemble the 1960s and the countless number of stories from traumatized students, no substantial statement from USC or LAPD has been released.
USC has made their priorities clear. It seems to me that they are more concerned with losing diversity enrollment numbers than catering to the few they already have. Its top officials would rather attend a brutality-free party in the Grand Ballroom than publicly address the civil rights movement happening below their office windows.
After the Sit In, I got an email notifying me that my cap and gown were ready for pick-up. In 10 days, we are graduating Magna Cum Laude from a university that doesn’t prioritize our outcry.
Tonight, we are hosting a discussion forum with the USC Department of Public Safety and the Los Angeles Police Department. I have been fasting and praying for two days in hopes that my time, tears and efforts will not go unanswered. One can only hope that the leaders, servers and protectors of this city will finally acknowledge the injustice that has rocked the nation(s).
Absolute honesty and transparency are essential to this community’s progression. If my superiors are planning to communicate in circles and dance around detriment, tomorrow’s discussion will be a waste of everyone’s time. But since I know for a fact that the #USChangeMovement will succeed, I expect the LAPD, DPS, USC faculty, students and community members to bring nothing but the unadulterated truth to the Ronald Tutor Campus Center Ballroom at 6pm. Our community cannot afford to live in the past it’s been dwelling in. The time is now!
We’ve made our statement. Where’s yours?
Ways to Act:
Attend the Rally for the 6 students wrongfully arrested: Thursday, May 30th at 8:30AM
Central Arraignment Court 429 Bauchet St. Los Angeles, CA 90012
Facebook Event Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/667833176567127/
Sign the petition to help end racial profiling at USC: http://www.change.org/petitions/stop-racial-profiling-at-usc
Learn about The Movement at uschangemovement.com