On Friday, November 5, the Astroworld music festival left at least 10 people dead and hundreds more injured when poor organization and emergency response led to tragedy. Around 50,000 people were in attendance at the NRG Park in Houston to see rapper Travis Scott perform, when a crowd surge turned the event deadly. Numerous concerns about safety had been raised before the show started. At around 2 p.m., fans stampeded through gates and bypassed security checkpoints in a wild frenzy. Before the main show began, the city’s police chief visited Scott in his dressing room for a brief meeting to share his public safety concerns. Later, what was supposed to be an energetic and entertaining experience quickly devolved into mayhem and confusion. As Scott took the stage at around 9:30 p.m., concertgoers began to push and surge their way to the front, trapping those near the stage against barriers. The front of the crowd became compressed to the point where individuals were unable to move and even breathe in some cases.
Madeline Eskins, an ICU nurse who was at the festival, described the situation before the concert even began, “All of a sudden, people come pressed up against each other, pushed forward and backward…I had constant pressure on my chest…I was being squeezed.” Numerous other witness statements describe the same feelings of being trapped, anxious, and helpless as bodies compacted together. “Once he started, all hell broke loose,” another concertgoer recalls, “All of what is to be 50,000 people ran to the front, compressing everyone together with the little air available.” Despite numerous pleas from fans to stop the show, Scott continued performing. Although the show ended roughly 15-20 minutes ahead of the scheduled time, the damage had already been done.
Over a dozen lawsuits have been filed against Astroworld Music Festival and various defendants over the tragedy, including Scott and the show’s producers, Live Nation.
Scott and surprise performer Drake are alleged to have incited the crowd to dangerous levels in numerous suits against them. Complaints against entertainment company Live Nation and concert promoter, ScoreMore, allege that insufficient crowd control precautions were taken to protect attendees. Scott’s past incitements of concertgoers could be used against him in lawsuits over the Astroworld incident. In 2018, Scott pleaded guilty to a public disorder charge brought against him after encouraging fans to rush the stage at a concert in Arkansas. “This tragedy was months, if not years, in the making,” wrote one Houston lawyer bringing a suit against Scott for a client who was trampled. Former federal prosecutor Phillip Hilder criticized Astroworld’s 56-page planning document which, according to him, contained far too few details about safety measures constructed in the parking lot where the concert was to be held. Although the plan discussed the possibility of tornadoes, active shooters, bomb threats, civil disobedience and riots, it made no mention of a potential crowd surge. Despite numerous warnings, gross negligence on the part of multiple parties allowed this dangerous and chaotic gathering to proceed.
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