USC cuts ties with prominent booster who tweeted protesters and looters ‘should be shot’
USC took swift action in distancing itself from a prominent booster and season-ticket holder, revoking her season tickets and Trojan Athletic Fund membership on Monday after a string of “abhorrent and blatantly racist tweets” were brought to light in the wake of the weekend’s mass protests over the death of George Floyd.
Marla Brown, an attorney and alum whose since-deleted Twitter account previously claimed she worked with the Los Angeles Police Department union, suggested in several tweets sent on Saturday that protesters and looters “should be shot,” in addition to several other racially charged sentiments.
By Monday morning, USC athletic director Mike Bohn announced the university would be disassociating from Brown. USC sent a letter to Brown on Monday officially alerting her of its decision.
Racism and hate speech will not be tolerated. pic.twitter.com/Ariz9zkdJ1— Mike Bohn (@USC_mikebohn) June 1, 2020
“Last night, we were made aware of abhorrent and blatantly racist tweets from an individual who identified as a USC Football Booster,” Bohn wrote in a statement. “Following an immediate investigation into the matter, we informed the individual that their season ticket and Trojan Athletic Fund membership privileges have been revoked and their payments will be promptly returned. Their account has been flagged in our system to prevent future purchases.
“Thank you to the USC community for helping us identify this individual so that we could move swiftly to terminate our relationship. We stand in solidarity with the Black community.”
When reached by phone on Monday, Brown expressed regret that she’d sent the tweets, acknowledging that they were “horrible” and “very stupid remarks” while also bemoaning the fact that USC didn’t reach out before making its decision to unilaterally cut ties.
“They have to do what they have to do,” Brown said. “They didn’t reach out to me before they did it. It’s their decision to make, I guess. I have not much control over it. I certainly would’ve talked to them if they reached out to me, but I didn’t have the opportunity.”
A source close to the situation at USC said the decision to disassociate from Brown was met with zero dissent from the school’s administration. Several boosters and alumni also reached out on Sunday night to voice their disgust, relaying they did not want the school to be associated with Brown and her tweets.
Former USC wideout Michael Pittman Jr. was the first prominent voice to share his dismay with the school’s association with Brown, whose Twitter account featured a photo with Pittman. Brown deleted the account after Twitter suspended it and thus was unable to change the photo.
@SoCalMAB if you truly believe the things you have said, I politely ask you to take me out of your profile picture. This is disappointing, I know my true Trojan family would never. In times like this, it is important for us to stand together. https://t.co/CH5aVAwiTz— MPJ (@MikePitt_Jr) June 1, 2020
After the decision was made, Bohn reached out to Pittman personally to relay USC’s stance over her conduct.
Brown said Monday that she sent her tweets in “a fit of anger” after protests came near her home.
“I don’t want to lie or complain,” Brown said. “It was a stupid thing to do. I was wrong. I generally temper myself better on things like this because this is not how I feel.”
But when asked directly if she felt her tweets were “abhorrent and blatantly racist,” as Bohn wrote in his statement, Brown agreed they were “abhorrent” but balked at any suggestion they were racist.
“They were stupid and horrible,” Brown said. “You know, obviously, they view them as racist. The people who complained about it view them as racist. That’s their view. If I sat there and looked at it, I can see that someone might view them as racist. But I can also see that they could be viewed as not necessarily racist.
“So, I think you could go either way on that. Obviously they’re going the one way on that, to appease the people that are requesting this. I don’t really blame people being angry and upset. I did a really dumb, stupid thing. Other people are responsible for their own reactions to things, and I’m responsible for what I did. I caused this.”
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