Colleen Hammond | News Editor
After over two and a half years since her son’s death, Dannielle Brown has reached an agreement with Duquesne University.
According to Brown’s lawyers and Duquesne Media and Communications Manager Rose Ravasio, “The terms of the settlement agreement are not being disclosed.”
Brown, the mother of late Duquesne student Marquis Jaylen “JB” Brown, has been in a virtual deadlock with university administration since JB tragically fell to his death from the 16th floor of Brottier Hall on Oct. 4, 2018. It was JB’s 21st birthday.
“Our deepest condolences, thoughts and prayers will forever be with the Brown Family,” said Duquesne University President Ken Gormley. “JB remains an important member of the Duquesne University community. The University will continue to take a proactive approach to cultivating a safe and socially conscious environment for our students.”
Although Brown had not spoken to university officials in some time, this past July, she abruptly moved from her native Washington, D.C. and took up residence on Freedom Corner in the Hill District where she began a hunger strike.
At the beginning of her hunger strike, Brown issued a series of demands to university administration. “1) An independent investigation with full access to information and resources. 2) Body cameras for all university police. 3) Mandatory certification training in mental health crisis intervention and de-escalation for police and first responders,” read a sign at Brown’s protest site.
Brown repeatedly stated that she would not end her hunger strike until all her demands had been met, stating — both in person and on social media — “You came for the wrong mother, until my last breath.”
On Sept. 25, Duquesne announced they had purchased body cameras for all 40 Duquesne Police officers. In addition, the university also stated they were investing in enhanced de-escalation training measures.
However, despite these efforts, Brown continued her hunger strike until March 11 – her 50th birthday. In total, Brown stated she was on a hunger strike for 237 days.
At the conclusion of her hunger strike, she hosted a small, outdoor gathering at the place where it all began — Freedom Corner. There she announced the launch of the Marquis Jaylen Brown Foundation, an organization with a major focus on campus police reform across the country.
“I am so excited to team up with Duquesne (maybe) and universities around the world,” Brown said in a March 13 social media post. “This is an excellent organization for mother’s voices and student social activism to be channeled in a collective front where all parties are involved in a healthy, holistic approach to changing the climate of injustices on college campuses, collegiate communities and systems.”
“In bringing this case to a close, Dannielle Brown will now devote her focus and energy to a broader mission of achieving social justice through the Marquis Jaylen Brown Foundation,” said attorneys Paul Jubas and Max Petrunya.
Reflecting on the experience, Brown said she visited the memorial bench dedicated to her son, facing the Duquesne football field where he once played. “As the tears rolled down my eyes, I took a deep breath and exhaled,” Brown said via social media. “The sun hit my face and I felt the warmth of your spirit JB, shouting, ‘Well done mother.’”