Actress Taraji P. Henson said her 20-year-old son is transferring to Howard University after being racially profiled by police at the University of Southern California.
The “Empire” star and D.C. native made the comments in the latest issue of Uptown magazine, which features her on the cover.
Henson said her son, Marcel, was stopped by police on the Los Angeles campus “for having his hands in his pockets.” She said he now plans to attend her alma mater, the historically black Howard University.
The chief of USC's Department of Public Safety said in a statement Tuesday that any allegation of unequal treatment by university officers would trigger an investigation. Chief John Thomas said he was racially profiled as a teenager and was “deeply disturbed” to learn that Henson's son felt profiled because of his race.
"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.
"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.
"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."
— John Thomas, Executive Director/Chief, USC Department of Public Safety