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Amid spiking crime in the nation’s capital, Howard University students, faculty and staff came together last week to discuss safety measures and participate in live self-defense demonstrations following a massive brawl outside of residence halls the preceding weekend.

During the annual Bison Week Safety Fair Thursday, Aug. 17, students were also given a new device called POM, or Peace of Mind. With a click of a button, the safety gadget allows students to call for help on and off campus should they encounter a dangerous situation.

In a video posted to Howard’s social media channels, a faculty member at the school said that students could click the device three times to call the police on campus. If located far from the university grounds, students can also click their POM to contact law enforcement officials nearby.

The POMs were given out to students free of charge. They will also be readily available at the Blackburn Student Center every Tuesday and Thursday throughout the academic year, according to The Dig. 


The POM was mentioned at a student hall meeting last week.

Howard University Police Chief Marcus Lyles mentioned the POM device during a student and parent town hall meeting held Friday, Aug. 18, two days after a mob of D.C. juveniles stormed the Plaza Towers and assaulted several students. The vicious melee left several people injured and one student stabbed.

Video footage of the massive altercation shared to social media captured a group of 20 to 50 young people kicking, punching and stomping one another near the Plaza Towers.

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 nearby Banneker Field and was quickly kicked off the premises by The Metropolitan Police Department (MPD). The mob eventually made their way toward the Plaza Towers where a massive fight broke out.

One assailant with a gun was arrested after the brawl.

In addition to POM, Howard said it plans to install more than 1,000 cameras across campus to bolster security. Card readers will also be installed to control access to facilities. Under the university’s “layered” safety initiative, officials said that several armed officers will be stationed in front of the Howard Plaza Towers until future notice.


Another incident happened over the weekend.

According to a letter sent by Howard’s president Wayne A. I. Frederick on Saturday, Aug. 19, another unruly incident occurred near the Plaza Towers the day before.

“Similar to the disturbing conduct from last weekend, the participants appear to be juveniles who, per our communication with the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) and District of Columbia government, have been engaging in disorderly conduct across the city this summer,” Frederick said of the disturbance.

According to the letter, a group of rowdy juveniles were caught “yelling, taunting and displaying threatening behavior” around the Plaza Towers on Saturday. No students were physically harmed during that incident.

Frederick thanked officers from the Department of Public Safety who stepped in to quell the chaos. He also condemned the uptick in crime stirring across campus.

“I continue to be extremely troubled by the recent incidents that have disrupted our campus community,” he added. “There is simply no need for young people, or anyone, to engage in behavior that is offensive, threatening, or harassing towards others; and we condemn any such behavior directed especially toward our students.”

Another town hall meeting was scheduled for Tuesday to address the recent incident and new safety protocols across campus.


Crime is up across D.C.

The alarming incidents across Howard University’s campus come as crime soars around the Washington, D.C. area. Homicides, motor vehicle thefts and arson-related crimes have gone up significantly in 2023, according to the Metropolitan Police Department’s Crime Data Sheet.

This year, homicides jumped up 30% while arson and motor vehicle theft saw an increase of 167% and 114% respectively.

In response to the crime surge, Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser announced Tuesday that a citywide curfew would go into effect Sept. 1 for students and individuals under the age of 17. Across the city, people under the age of 17 can not be out unsupervised between the hours of 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. on weekdays and midnight to 6 a.m. on weekends.


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