Reports surrounding award-winning actress Taraji P. Henson’s decision to enroll her son in Howard University after being racially profiled at the University of Southern California has sparked a mixed of reactions from fans, media outlets and even Al Sharpton’s National Action Network who called for an investigation of the school’s campus police department. Now, an official from USC is taking it upon himself to respond to the claims and look into the case further.
John Thomas, who works in USC’s Department of Public Safety, spent 21 years as a member of the Los Angeles Police Department before joining the school’s staff. After hearing the news of Henson’s son being racially profiled on USC campus, Thomas released the following statement in regards to the school investigating the matter:
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.
Henson, who is a graduate of Howard University herself, told Uptown magazine, “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.” While there’s no word on how soon Henson will enroll her 20-year-old son into school at Howard, she did issue the below statement on Twitter in response to the mixed reactions she’s received about her decision.
I really don’t care what ppl think about what I do with MY LIFE AND ALL INVOLVED WITH ME!!!!! Give it a rest. ✌️
— Taraji P. Henson (@TherealTaraji) March 23, 2015