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Taraji P. Henson USC Racial Profiling Claims Elicit Response From College

”Police stopped him for having his hands in his pockets,“ Henson said in an interview, “I’m not paying $50K so I can’t sleep at night’

“Empire” star Taraji P. Henson‘s claims that her son was a victim of racial profiling near the University of Southern California campus in Los Angeles, have been met with a response from the college.

In a February interview with Uptown magazine that resurfaced this week, Henson said her son Marcel was stopped by police under false pretenses near the school, where he was considering attending.

“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,” Henson said.

USC’s Department of Public Safety Director John Thomas responded to the claim on Tuesday, saying he’s troubled by the accusation, and that he himself has suffered through the unfair detainment.

“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,” Thomas said.

“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.”

The historically black Howard University in Washington, D.C. is Henson’s alma mater, where she studied acting. The degree paid off — Henson received an Academy Award nomination for her role in the 2008 film “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” and she is one of the stars of the hit Fox series “Empire.”

Read Thomas’ full statement:

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.