PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Dannielle Brown, a mother who is on a hunger strike to get answers about the death of her son, held a “living funeral” in Pittsburgh.
On Thursday, Dannielle Brown staged her own funeral, which started at Freedom Corner with a service and included a march to Duquesne University. She has been on a hunger strike for more than 30 days, demanding reforms after the death of her son Marquis Brown.
The mother went on the hunger strike hoping to catch the attention of Duquesne University, where her 21-year-old son was a student-athlete and junior when he died in 2018.
According to police, Marquis died after smashing a chair through a glass window in his campus dorm room and falling 16 stories to his death.
It happened after university police and campus security responded to a call about a noise complaint in the room.
On Thursday, a group of more than 200 marched with Dannielle to Duquesne and back to Freedom Corner. During the procession, which included a casket, the group stopped to hear speeches, danced and clapped in the street.
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“You see the casket in the back and that symbolizes my truth and my truth is that I came here on a mission,” Dannielle said. “I came here with a purpose, and I came here resolved that I’ll take my last breath here.”
When the group reached Duquesne University, they chanted “shut it down,” according to Pittsburgh Public Safety. They also prayed outside Brottier Hall, where Marquis died.
The crowd has taken over the intersection of Forbes Ave. & Chatham Sq. outside Duquesne University.
They are chanting, "Shut it down."
Drivers should avoid the area. https://t.co/VjR3E8z0cD
— Pgh Public Safety (@PghPublicSafety) August 6, 2020
Dannielle has demanded that Duquesne University cooperate with a new independent investigation, obtain body cameras for university officers and provide crisis training to its officers.
In an open letter to Dannielle, Duquesne says it can accommodate those requests and wants to end her hunger strike.
Dannielle told KDKA in July that the open letter was a start, but she still has more questions. Dannielle still wants clarification and to talk further with Duquesne. She is determined to conduct a private investigation and believes there’s more to the story about her son’s death.
Dannielle said she is prepared to die to get more answers about her son’s death.
On Wednesday, Duquesne University released a statement, saying:
“Immediately following this 2018 incident, Duquesne commissioned a separate and independent investigation. The evidence showed this was not a case of police misconduct. The police who came onto the scene are well-trained and experienced. They encountered a young man who was acting strangely and causing concern among other students. They responded by trying to calm the situation. They did not use force or threats of force; rather they worked to deescalate the situation and keep everyone safe. This was confirmed by multiple witnesses. Unfortunately, the young man shocked everyone and did something unexpected when he suddenly propelled himself to his death. The City of Pittsburgh Police reported that drug testing confirmed the presence of drugs in his system.
Duquesne is committed to transparency here; it has already met with Ms. Brown and her attorney, shared information, and agreed to allow Ms. Brown to do her own further investigation of the facts. Indeed, the University has agreed to all three of her recent requests and has communicated that to her attorney. We are working with Ms. Brown’s attorney to ensure compliance with federal and state laws, including privacy laws, and her attorney has been engaged in that process. It is unclear what else Ms. Brown is seeking as the University has already agreed to each of her demands. If there are additional demands, the University invites her to make them public.
Duquesne continues to grieve for the family over this tragedy and continues to care for the health and safety of Ms. Brown.”