Montgomery Co. Council member calls brawl after high school football game ‘shocking’

Montgomery County, Maryland, Council member Kate Stewart didn’t see any of the fights that broke out Friday night between groups of students after Friday night’s football game between Walter Johnson and Bethesda-Chevy Chase High schools.

But Stewart, who had been on a ride-along with Montgomery County police in Bethesda, said she did see videos on social media afterward and described them as “shocking.”

“My first reaction was disbelief,” Stewart told WTOP.

She said she was also saddened to see “that young people were the victims of this type of violence and also committing this level of violence.”

The fights broke out after the football game, as students gathered around the Bethesda Metro station.

“We need to look at what are we doing to make sure that students get from game to home safely,” Stewart said.

The safety of students at events and games isn’t just something for the schools to tackle alone.

“This is going to take all of us working together,” Stewart said, adding that student safety should be ensured “door to door.”

As of Monday morning, Montgomery County police said no arrests had been made in connection to the fights.

Will the country make changes to game day for safety?

Christopher Cram, the spokesperson for Montgomery County Schools, said that, the school district is following “Tier One” regulations for large events and football games.

According to Tier One, students of the participating schools may attend with a valid ticket and by presenting their student ID or StudentVue verification of their schedule. “All other school aged spectators must be accompanied by an adult chaperone.” The rules say those adults must stay with all children in their care throughout the game.

Also included in Tier One rules, students and spectators have to stay in their seats during the game.

While there could be “gathering” among spectators during halftime, the rules state that when the game is being played, spectators should be back in their seats. And, “Separate entrances, staggered exits and additional support and security coverage” will be used in high-traffic areas.

Under Tier Two, only students of the home team can attend the games, along with the families of the student-athletes.

And under Tier Three, “Only families of student-athletes and participants in the event may attend.”

Under extreme circumstances, no spectators may be allowed.

Among the things schools may consider when deciding which levels of security should be in place is whether there are historical rivalries between schools.

In 2021, fights broke out between students at Walter Johnson and Bethesda-Chevy Chase High schools after a game, and just as in the most recent incident, the principals of both schools issued a statement at the time calling the fighting “unacceptable.”

Kate Ryan

As a member of the award-winning WTOP News, Kate is focused on state and local government. Her focus has always been on how decisions made in a council chamber or state house affect your house. She's also covered breaking news, education and more.

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