USC responds to Taraji P. Henson's claim son was racially profiled there

Star plays the overbearing Cookie Lyon on FOX hit


The University of Southern California is responding to accusations from "Empire" star Taraji P. Henson in an interview with Uptown Magazine that she didn't let her son attend the school because he was racially profiled in or around the university campus.

Executive director of USC's Department of Public Safety John Thomas released the following statement to news outlets on Monday night.

I was deeply disturbed to read news reports about a prospective student who felt profiled on or near campus because of his race. We encourage reporting of allegations of bias and I hope for the opportunity to have a conversation with the young man and his mother.

I would like to look into this matter further and better understand who was involved and what took place. As someone who personally experienced racial profiling as a teenager, I have a stake in learning more about this incident and doing all I can to reach a just resolution.

It is not clear to me which police departments were involved. Any allegation of bias or unequal treatment by university officers would trigger an investigation that I would supervise along with the university’s Office of Equity and Diversity. It is my expectation and that of the university that our department uphold the highest standards of constitutional policing, affording equal rights and respect to all persons.

In an interview published last month, Henson told a story of her 20-year-old son Marcel's two negative experiences with law enforcement. 

“My child has been racially profiled. He was in Glendale, California and did exactly everything the cops told him to do, including letting them illegally search his car. It was bogus because they didn’t give him the ticket for what he was pulled over for," she said. "Then he’s at University of Southern California, the school that I was going to transfer him to, when police stopped him for having his hands in his pockets. So guess where he’s going? Howard University. I’m not paying $50K so I can’t sleep at night wondering is this the night my son is getting racially profiled on campus.”

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