Friends and family of the late Karon Hylton-Brown said they’re not slowing down their protests until the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) follows through on a set of institutional changes for the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) outlined in a recently circulated letter.
Charles Brown, Hylton-Brown’s father and one of nine people arrested on Halloween night during a melee between D.C. police officers and protesters at the city’s Fourth District station, has heralded the demands, compiled by Concerned Citizens DC, as necessary in realizing changes that can prevent fatal episodes like what ended his son’s life on Oct. 26.
For the time being, however, Brown has shifted his concern to the needs of some of the front-line soldiers who’ve, in a sense, became targets of Fourth District officers last weekend.
“When I got to the protest, things had already started to happen,” Brown told The Informer as he recounted the events of Oct. 31 that led to his arrest.
“As I got closer, one of the protesters ran past me with five or six police officers behind him. They roughed him up and subdued him and took him into Fourth District,” continued Brown, a Southeast resident.
“I walked up to [one of the lieutenants] and asked him what was going on. All of a sudden, I see 20 or 30 bicycled officers rushing down Georgia Avenue. Then I heard Karon’s friends telling their friends to run. He’s running and I ran behind him to see what was going on.”
On Monday, a day after his release without any charges filed against him, Brown and at least six other people converged on Room C-10 of D.C. Superior Court in a show of support for some of the other protesters who remained in police custody over the weekend.
Members of Brown’s group, spread throughout the courtroom, had the opportunity to listen as their shackled comrades in Central Cell Block virtually tuned into their arraignment and learned about the charges — including assaulting a police officer, resisting arrest, defacing public property, and possessing a deadly weapon — they would face in a criminal trial next spring.
This process didn’t come without some delays. For one, the judge and other court officials considered dropping criminal charges for some defendants.
Much to Brown’s relief, the detained protesters, including one who had a warrant in Maryland, were released. For those standing in Room C-10 on Monday evening, the events of last Halloween night, and the overall response to Hylton-Brown’s death, have created a tension that, for the time being, worked in protesters’ favor.
Uptown D.C. Turns up the Flames
Hylton-Brown, a young man and father known to many as “Rondoe,” died on Oct. 26, three months after the birth of his daughter and three days when a Revel-brand moped he was riding collided with a gray conversion van on Kennedy Street in Northwest.
A day later, multitudes of people flooded Georgia Avenue in search of answers. MPD Officer Terrance “Tattoo” Sutton and three other officers have since been placed on administrative leave, while D.C. council members and others continue to D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham on a response.
Since protests erupted, MPD has reported property damage to the Fourth District Station, including shattered windows. Subsequent Instagram and Facebook posts have also shown broken police cruiser windshields along Georgia Avenue in Northwest.
Throughout last week, officers, covered in body armor and shields, lined up along the entrance of the station and surrounding streets unleashed snake bombs and tear gas at a group of protesters, including the late Hylton-Brown’s parents. These situations have fanned the flames of distrust and anger along the Kennedy Street corridor, and overall Brightwood community.
Body-camera footage released has since confirmed those sentiments.
In the video, Sutton and another officer were driving behind Hylton-Brown in the moments before his fatal collision. Later, a lifeless Hylton-Brown lies on the ground while officers attempt to track down the vehicle that hit him. They cited the young man’s alleged operation of the moped without a helmet as the cause of their pursuit.
Family and friends said that Hylton-Brown would later be sent to the hospital as a “John Doe” despite Fourth District’s previous interactions with the decedent.
“Had the police not been chasing Karon, the car wouldn’t have hit him,” said Maureen Brown, a lifelong Brightwood resident and mother of one of Hylton-Brown’s childhood friends, in reference to the District’s “no chase” law that forbids police officers from initiating high-speed chases.
Seeking a Collaborative Solution
Janeese Lewis George, the Democratic candidate and likely winner of the Ward 4 D.C. Council seat, spent much of last week connecting Hylton-Brown’s family with resources, and facilitating their viewing of the body camera footage from the night of Oct. 23.
Last Wednesday, she assisted Hylton-Brown’s grandmother in hosting a vigil on the corner of Seventh and Kennedy streets that ran concurrently with the protest at MPD’s Fourth District station. There, a bevy of clergypeople from the surrounding communities also offered condolences and led mourners in prayer.
George said she asked those clergypeople, which included The Rev. Joe Daniels, The Rev. Patti Fears, and The Rev. Graylan Hagler, not only pray for Hylton-Brown’s family, but an entire community in need of a resolution.
“I would like to see some acknowledgment of the build-up of the breakdown in community relations and trust,” said George. “We have to acknowledge the lack of accountability and collaboration that has occurred. I would like everyone to be willing to come to the table and carry their responsibility in where we’ve gotten as a community [so we can] pledge to work to make that better.”