News & Politics

Video: Park Police Officer Sits on DC High School Student Protesting Trump

Elton Smole drew a peace sign on an electrical box during DC students' walkout.

Screenshot via Instagram.

A video depicting a United States Park Police officer arresting a DC teenager who participated in a protest yesterday against President-elect Donald Trump is surging on social media. In the minute-long clip, posted on Instagram and Twitter, a Park Police officer is seen pinning a teenager’s head between his knees while placing handcuffs on the youth.

The teenager being arrested in the video has been identified as 17-year old Elton Smole, a senior at Woodrow Wilson High School. He says the incident happened about 3 PM Tuesday, near the end of an anti-Trump demonstration that included thousands of students from Wilson and other city high schools. Smole tells Washingtonian that he had just drawn a peace sign on an electrical box at the intersection of 17th St. and Constitution Ave., Northwest, when the officer ran into him with a motorcycle, threw him to the ground, and sat on his face while making the arrest.

Nico Jochnick, Smole’s friend and fellow Wilson student who recorded the video, can be heard shouting “Can you please get off of his face?” and “He put him in a chokehold!” Jochnick then pans to a peace sign drawn on an electrical box. “Over this?” Jochnick asks in the video.

Smole says he was charged with vandalism and spent seven hours in police custody, during which time he was treated at Children’s National Medical Center for minor injuries. Smole says he was able to clear the charge from his record by agreeing to participate in a diversion program.

A Park Police spokeswoman confirmed that a male youth was charged with defacing public property, and that the charge was dropped when the suspect agreed to participate in a diversion program through the DC Police Department’s juvenile detention center.

Smole says that he has always been politically active and that he was one of the people who came up with the idea of the walkout.

“We arranged this walkout to protest against Donald Trump’s racist rhetoric,” Smole says. “Our school is very diverse, largely African-American, so we wanted to do this to show a sense of unity.”

Additional reporting by Evy Mages.

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Zack Bu is an editorial fellow. He graduated from Columbia Journalism School with a concentration in data journalism. He writes and codes and is passionate about combing the two. He’s written for Quartz and

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Andrea is a fall 2016 editorial fellow at Washingtonian. She graduated from Columbia Journalism School in May and has written for Eater, Outside, and Vice. She lives in Bloomingdale.