Why The Charges Don’t Matter

There’s still a lot of confusion and misinformation circulating around the not-so-existent charges against the six USC students who were wrongfully arrested on May 4th. As I tried to manage my emotions after the news broke that the charges weren’t really dropped, I realized that the outcome of this case shouldn’t dictate my sense of progress.

A statement released on June 3rd reads,

Unfortunately the City Attorney’s office has not been forthcoming with their true intentions concerning the USC students who were arrested and brutalized by the Los Angeles Police Department last month,” stated Beverly Hills Attorney Fred Dorton, the legal representative for the six USC students.

Eyewitness reports indicate an LAPD officer hit one of the arrested female students in the back with a baton. Another student had handcuffs placed on his wrists so tightly that it left visible scars. A third student suffered sprains and injuries consistent with a bone fracture. All of the accused students suffered and continue to suffer emotional distress. Due to the delays of the City Attorney’s office to make a decision about formally filing charges, the students’ summer jobs, internships and graduate school plans are now in jeopardy.

The City Attorney’s office issued a statement Thursday evening May 30, indicating they are “gathering evidence and the case remains under review,” despite the fact the City Attorney’s office did not file criminal complaints against the students by the arraignment deadline on May 30.

I, of course, believe that no one should be charged with anything other than an extensive apology. Last Thursday, I joined a group of activists outside of the LA Arraignment Court, protesting a few feet away from LA County Jail to ensure that my friends could finally resume life as usual. As I stood there and watched inmates dressed in mint green jump suits clean up trash while patrolled by guards, the true purpose of this movement was reinforced.

Contrary to popular belief, our main mission is not to clear the names of the USC 6. The #USChangeMovement exists to change people’s minds. We are after the hearts and ideologies of those in power. Our ultimate goal is to have law enforcement officials and policy makers understand and respect all people, regardless of cultural differences or any other senseless and dividing factors. I see our efforts as an overdue awakening. While it is disheartening to know that my friends were beat up, detained, arrested, and held in a cell overnight, the reality is that innocent people go through that all the time. Unfortunately, every target of racial profiling doesn’t have enough clout to be released on his or her own recognizance, as was the case for the USC 6. Every day, people are stopped and frisked, arrested and slammed with bogus charges, then made to post bail money that they may or may not have unless, of course, they want to stay in jail until their court date that may or may not be postponed at someone else’s discretion.

I am writing for the thousands of innocent people sitting in jail right now whose voices have been silenced by an unjust legal system. We are rallying for the hundreds of unarmed Black and brown men who have been murdered for merely existing. Our actions are showing the world how to effectively bring about sustainable change through peace, intellect, and understanding.

Believe me when I say that this movement is not about “a bunch of over privileged drunk college kids who didn’t want to disperse.” We are all very aware of our privilege, which is why we are leveraging it. As we are invited into the boardrooms of the Los Angeles Police Department, the University of Southern California and eventually the White House, rest assured that we are bringing the voices of the suppressed with us.

Whether or not Carmen Trutanich, the Los Angeles City Attorney, decides to file charges has nothing to do with our confidence. My faith in this cause is dependent solely on God, who undoubtedly set all of this up. We have been successful primarily because of the fact that God’s passion for justice is deeper than the ACLU, the resilient protesters in Turkey and the #USChangeMovement combined.

For I, the LORD, love justice; I hate robbery and wrongdoing. In my faithfulness I will reward my people and make an everlasting covenant with them. –Isaiah 61:8

Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause. –Isaiah 1:17

Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice. –Proverbs 31:9

Evil people don’t understand justice, but those who follow the Lord understand completely. –Proverbs 28:5

Police brutality and excessive force shouldn’t have to happen to you before you stand up against it. I am beyond disappointed in myself for neglecting the cries of my people until now, but now that I have this platform, I refuse to let it go to waste.

The USC 6 shouldn’t be charged, not because they are scholars, but because they were wrongfully arrested. If the Los Angeles City Attorney finds legitimate evidence that somehow proves otherwise, I’d love to see it. But in spite of whatever happens, I will remain committed to this fight to ensure that no human being, “educated” or not, is subject to discriminatory treatment at the hands of those who are there to protect and serve.

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