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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

Unity Street Fair Bridges Gap Between Law Enforcement and Community

USC SOLID hosted the first annual Unity Street Fair to build a stronger relationship between law enforcement and community members.

More than a hundred community members, Los Angeles Police Department officers, students, and Department of Public Safety officials gathered Saturday afternoon for the first annual SOLID Unity Street Fair.

"It's more than [just] being important for USC. It's important for the community," said senior Brittany Jenkins.

A campus group called Students Organizing for Literacy, Inclusion & Diversity (SOLID) organized the street fair to reduce tension between law enforcement and residents. They said there is one date that made it clear they needed to form a better relationship: May 4th.

Racial profiling allegations erupted after LAPD officers broke up a house party near campus. One junior said the response was excessive.

"People do commit crimes, but at the end of the day they're still human beings," said Mohamed Merghani.

Although the LAPD said their officers did not target students of color at the party, police agree they could benefit from a stronger relationship with students and residents in the area.

"We want to work with the community to have a better understanding and to keep the community safe," said LAPD Sergeant Jonathan Pinto.

People in the area who aren't USC students also said closer ties with law enforcement will have a positive impact.

"I think [it would be great] if the police would be a little bit more understanding," said Claudia Parker, who works part-time at the Hoover Recreation Center where the street fair was held. "But I think it's great that they decided to come to this event and they're participating with us."

Both the LAPD and USC's DPS said they want the community to feel like officers on patrol are protecting them.

"We all want the same thing," said DPS Chief John Thomas. "We want a safe, secure community for the university and for the residents that live around the university." 

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