Six students at the University of Southern California claim the Los Angeles Police Department used excessive force to break up a mostly black party while a mostly white party continued undisturbed across the street.
Rayven Vinson and others are suing the city, the school and 12 LAPD police officers for false arrest, excessive force, malicious prosecution and other claims.
Students claim the LAPD raided their party on May 4, 2013. Approximately 79 riot police with batons held a skirmish line on the street and arrested the six students, Courthouse News Service reported.
A student who attended the white party, Matthew Walsh, told USC Annenberg TV News that there was a major difference in the way police treated the two parties.
"Our party didn't actually get broken up by LAPD, a lot of people just left on their own volition," Walsh said. "The attitude of the police officers toward the two parties was completely different. It was absurd, I couldn't believe it."
"People were traumatized and scared," partygoer and Black Student Assembly Director Lamar Gary told USC. "They didn't know what to do - people were helpless."
The black party was reportedly in compliance with university requirements, but USC's Department of Public Safety also showed up to break up the black party.
The suit says "mostly minority student party properly registered their party with the University of Southern California's Department of Public Safety, the University's law enforcement arm. The hosts of the mostly minority student party also properly checked student ID's at the door, a requirement for such parties. The mostly Caucasian party did neither of these things."
Police allegedly told the white partygoers to “stay safe” and keep the noise down, the complaint states.
"Seventy-plus officers? What else was going on at that time in the community that you needed to be at a party of students getting ready to graduate?" USC senior Nate Howard, who organized the party, told NPR last year.
Howard and other students, mostly minorities, held a sit-in at the school last year.
LAPD Captain Paul Snell later met with students at the school.
"What I'd like to do before we move forward is really address the race issue," Snell told students in a USC auditorium. "We have looked at this and we do not believe that this was race-based."
The six students seek compensatory and exemplary damages and costs for civil rights violations, fraudulent misrepresentation, assault and battery, constitutional violations and other charges.