Howard University held a parent and student town hall meeting Aug. 15 to address safety concerns after a vicious melee broke out near the HBCU’s residence halls Aug. 13.
On Tuesday, Dr. Anthony Wutoh, Provost & Chief Academic Officer, as well as Howard University Police Chief Marcus Lyles, announced their “layered” safety plan following Sunday’s brawl near the Howard Plaza Towers, which left several people injured and at least one student stabbed.
Video footage of the massive melee shared to social media captured a group of 20 to 50 young people, kicking, punching and stomping one another near the Howard Plaza Towers, two student dorms located on the university’s campus.
On Tuesday, Lyles said that the young mob was part of a notorious “fight club” that city officials have been tracking all summer. The unruly gang gathered at Banneker Field Sunday and were quickly kicked off the premises by The Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), the police chief said. After they left Banneker Field, the group made their way to the Howard Plaza Towers where a massive fight broke out.
The brawl lasted around two and a half minutes and left multiple students injured, according to Lyles. So far, the MPD has arrested one juvenile who had a handgun during the vicious altercation.
Lyles, who called the incident “disgusting” and “disturbing,” has launched an internal and external investigation into the fight.
Howard is introducing new safety measures.
Howard plans to install more than 1000 cameras across campus following Sunday’s melee. Card readers will also be installed across campus to control access to certain buildings on the university’s grounds.
Howard has also bolstered its security. An armed officer will be stationed in front of the Howard Plaza Towers until future notice. Students will also be supplied with an emergency device that they can use to call for help.
“Washington D.C. is having a tough time right now. There are too many guns on the street, too many juveniles that are conducting violent crimes,” Lyles added.
Students speak out.
During an interview with NBC Washington, two Howard students involved in Sunday’s attack painted a harrowing picture of the vicious fight. One victim told the outlet that he was “prepared to die” when the group attacked him and his friends. “When I was on the ground getting stomped out, I just stopped feeling the pain at one point.”
The Howard student, who asked to remain anonymous, described the attackers as “a bunch of D.C. locals.” When the mob stormed in front of the Towers, another student claimed that the feisty group immediately began “kicking” and “punching” him and his classmates. “We were getting jumped.”
Sadly, both victims alleged that campus security failed to render aid to the student who was stabbed during the chaotic brawl.“He got stabbed in the back and got like just beat on by like 30 people,” one of the victims told NBC Washington. “It was just him by himself, and security looked at him on the ground, watched his body go limp, and just walked away, didn’t call anybody, didn’t do anything.”
At Tuesday’s town hall, Lyles said he took swift action to remove the security officers in question after gathering information from students. “There was enough evidence from what I heard where I removed a lieutenant from that position, suspension pending investigation. “A third-party contractor that the university hired to secure the student housing area was also “released” from their position after the melee.
That wasn’t the first time that the group caused chaos near Howard, according to the MPD and school officials.
On Aug. 12, the same group of juveniles gathered at Banneker Field, before they were removed by MPD, Lyles said. The rowdy gang traveled to a nearby sandwich shop across the street from Howard, on Georgia Avenue and Barry Place, where a physical altercation broke out. No Howard students were involved in the incident, according to university President Wayne A. I. Frederick.
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