Eight people injured at Howard University’s Yardfest homecoming concert


Officers with the Metro Police Department guard a gate after International Yardfest, the centerpiece of Howard University's Homecoming festivities, reached capacity on Friday. (Jahi Chikwendiu/Washington Post)

Hundreds of spectators, upset that they could not get into Friday’s annual Yardfest homecoming concert at Howard University, rushed the gates, injuring eight people, including two D.C. police officers, according to school and law enforcement officials.

The outdoor concert was delayed for more than an hour while the crowd was calmed and the injured were treated. Keith St. Clair, a spokesman for the deputy mayor of public safety, said most of the injuries were minor. All of the victims were taken to hospitals.

Authorities said one officer incurred a wrist injury and was taken by ambulance to a hospital. Police took another officer to a hospital in a squad car. His injuries were not immediately described.

Yardfest, the annual afternoon-long hip-hop concert held on the quadrangle at Howard, went quiet not long after 3 p.m. when D.C. and university police responded to reports of fans rushing the gates. “It has created a public-safety hazard,” said Officer Paul Metcalf, a D.C. police spokesman.

For at least two decades, Yardfest was free and open to the public, making it one of the hallmark events of Howard’s homecoming weekend. But this year, organizers made the concert a ticketed event, charging $5 for each patron.

Kerry-Ann Hamilton, a spokeswoman for Howard, said school officials and the D.C. fire marshal determined that 14,000 people could safely attend the event, held on the quad near the 2400 block of Fourth Street NW. In years past, Hamilton said, authorities did not enforce limits on crowd size. The concert sold out Thursday.

Hamilton said that most of the people left outside the closed gates did not have tickets, though it was possible some ticketed patrons got caught in the raucous group. Video posted on the Internet showed young people crowding a gate and some climbing over walls to get inside.

After the incident, Howard University sent out a notice on Twitter that the concert would resume once people “outside of Yardfest calm down.”

The concert started again about 4:30 p.m. with a performance by Detroit rapper Big Sean.

Juicy J and A$AP Ferg were on the bill, but the concert ended shortly after 6 p.m. without them appearing.

Clarence Williams, Mark Berman and Samantha Raphelson contributed to this report.

Chris Richards became the Post's pop music critic in 2009. He has covered D.I.Y. house shows, White House concerts, go-go and Gaga.
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