City Desk

Friday Night Rumble: Not Yet a Flashmob-Sparked Metrorail Brawl

Metro riders aren't the only ones scared by Friday night's incident on the Green and Yellow lines—with elections fast approaching, some politicians are trying to figure out if the brawl carries some risk for themselves, too.

The incident involved as many as 70 teens and young adults underground on Metro. The Associated Press notes that no weapons were found at the scene of the fight, which started at the Gallery Place-Chinatown station and ended at the L'Enfant Plaza station. One witness reported that one person used a "cane-like weapon" to beat someone on the ground. Three teens were charged in the incident.

The Washington Post does a good job detailing how scary the situation was for some of those caught up in the "hysteria" and "pandemonium." At least one person thought it was a terrorist attack! "I turned the other way, and I was trampled," 27-year-old Chris Davis tells the Post.

The violence provided another opportunity for Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells to talk up his proposal for an earlier curfew. Back in June, the D.C. Council voted down Wells' bill that would have mandated an earlier curfew for juveniles. Some councilmembers, including Ward 3's Mary Cheh and Ward 8's Marion Barry, said that there's no empirical evidence that having earlier curfews actually makes a dent in juvenile crime.

At-Large D.C. Councilmember Phil Mendelson, tells the Post an earlier curfew would not have prevented Friday's fight. So there aren't any magic solution to curb these types of incidents, aside from more police patrols and better communication between Metropolitan Police Department officers on the streets and Metro Transit Police inside the system. (There will be some Green Line patrols by the D.C. Guardian Angels, however.)

Since 2005, Metrorail crime has increased.

One matter that is worth closer observation: Could the group violence on Metro be a version of the "flashmob" brawls police in Philadelphia were dealing with earlier this year? (There is some debate, however, whether Twitter, text messaging and other social networking really sparked the threatening gatherings on Philly's South Street, which drew big national media attention at the time.)

Certainly, though, phone-savvy teens and young adults are able to exchange real-time information while they're out and about, something they would have had difficulty doing just a few years ago. Flashmobs can also do this, and this, which is scary in its own way.

Lest anyone think this is a D.C.-specific concern, it's important to remember that large groups of angry people can turn violent quickly. Two weekends back in Brooklyn, I stumbled upon a grizzly sidewalk murder scene where a "mob" of 20 young men, armed with crowbars and tire irons, killed one and sent another to the hospital with serious stab wounds—in the end, a far more severe incident than Friday's Metro brawl.

Photo by thisisbossi via Flickr under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 license

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  • Manor

    My thoughts exactly: when 70 people rampage through 2-3 metro stops and beat people severely, what role did social media play?


  • wdc

    Why do you take Mendelson at his word? The three arrests were juveniles. They were arrested shortly before the current curfew time. How can he claim an earlier juvenile curfew wouldn't apply here with a straight face and why would you accept his comments at face value when the facts plainly speak otherwise? Mendelson always says efforts to combat crime wont work. He's a problem for anyone who wants a safer city.

  • White People don’t do this Stuff

    So were these "youths" all a bunch of Section 8 and public housing project vermin or did the young whites from NoVa and MoCo come to town to start some trouble on the train system?

    Just asking because I know that all of the youths involved were a bunch of savages bred by the mud people of Chocolate City.

  • Take your head out of the sand

    @White People...
    Wow. I take it you have never been to a football game or country fair or the right bar at night or any other large gathering of lower/middle class white people? I have seen plenty of groups of white people getting into brawls. In fact I have been hit by a high heel shoe at one of them. I am sure this is the case with every race given the right circumstances (kids will always be volatile).

    Lets keep racism out of this debate, alright?

  • Rick Mangus

    They should change the name from, 'Gallery Place / Chinatown' to 'Thugville'! There has been trouble there over and over and over again and Metro and MPD know that! The question is, why are there not extra officers in and around that stop on weekends?

  • White People don’t do this Stuff


    Please... EVERYONE knows that the mud people are a mess. And again, the white people you're talking about are lower class trash... just like the jungle bunnies who were fighting on the train on friday night.

    The difference is that poor white trash keeps localizes their social dysfunction. Blacks make their social dysfunction EVERYONE's problem.

  • White People don’t do this Stuff

    The major problem here is Black violence. Every time somebody posts the fact that Blacks are about eight times more likely to commit violent crime, people start calling him a racist.

    But note this: nobody calls him WRONG.

    Of course whites commit violent crime - as do Asians and Hispanics. But according to the U.S. Dept of Justice (run by a Black Attorney General, who works for a Black president) nobody commits violent crime at anywhere even close to the rate of Blacks. Blacks commit violent crime at a rate of about about 780% (or almost eight times) the rate of other citizens.

    People will surely call me racist - but I doubt anyone will call me wrong. That is the liberal way: if you see something negative about Blacks that you know is accurate ... just call the writer a racist. Problem solved. Maybe I am a racist by that definition, but I would vote for Colin Powell in a heartbeat, and as a Hospice volunteer I have washed and "changed" many, many Black bottoms.

    I'm surprised that no liberal has yet proposed that we give these thugs each a $100 bill when they enter the Metro if they will promise to behave themselves!!

    If God-fearing, hard-working, law-abiding Black folks (of which there are many millions) want people like me to stop talking about Black violence, they need to step up to the plate and start changing it.

    And PUL-ease don't tell me about poverty!! Most poor people CHOOSE to be poor. In the overwhelming preponderance of cases, poverty is the result of a lifetime of bad choices. I dare you liberals to show me a poor person (of any race) who studied his/her Algebra, Chemistry, Physics, English and History in High School; then worked his/her way through college; and worked hard; and delayed babies until he had a good job; and worked hard; and raised their children in a two-parent family; and worked hard; and saved his/her money; and didn't use drugs or abuse alcohol; and worked hard; and worked hard; and worked hard ... And I need not mention the fact that Blacks have a built-in legal advantage when it comes to education and jobs.

    You want to really SOLVE this problem? Here is how you do it:

    1. Raise these children is a two parent family (I couldn't care less whether the parents are married);

    2. Make sure a parent helps them with their homework five nights a week, and ensures that they are in bed at eleven p.m.

    There is no "quick fix". Throwing money at the problem with silly "Programs" will only exacerbate it. If we haven't learned that in the past 40 years, we are hopeless.

    In the meantime, the only viable alternative for decent, law-abiding people (of all races) is to stay out of the District of Cesspool (aside from weekday working hours). If you live in DC you need to move out. If you live in the 'Burbs, you need to stay out of the District.

    That, alas, is the only solution for law-abiding people.

  • blkwrestl

    To white people et al, this is a problem that can occur when you have lawless youth and no police protection. Your ignorant statement of "mud people" shows that you are no better than the people involvedin the brawl

  • downtown rez

    White People don't do this Stuff
    The only solution for law-abiding people is to ask you whether English or Irish soccer hooligans, or American football fans from any state are white enough for you.
    Bad behavior is just that. Don't be so quick to hate on someone because of the color of their skin which, at the end of the day, really only matters with sunburn and vitamin D production, and what color shirt suits best.

  • Keith B

    Actually I'm pretty sure the DoJ stats show that blacks are far more likely to serve jail time for crimes, which is not the same thing as the rate that people commit crimes.

  • Seek

    M.U.D. people -- stands for:


    I'd say that's about right.

  • Jason Hart

    Keith B is right- whites COMMIT 87 percent of the muggings, 83 percent of robberies and 93 percent of all murders in the US. Yet the BLACK MAN gets arrested FAR more often. With the teabaggers in control of the House, watch black and Hispanic arrests sore.

    Peace out,