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What went wrong at the Astroworld Festival

With the tragedy that occurred at the Astroworld Festival in early November, the blame should fall on Travis Scott.

On Nov. 5, rapper Travis Scott held his annual Astroworld Festival at NRG Park in Houston, Texas. On the first night of the two-day event, a crowd surge late in the evening resulted in the death of 10 attendees and hundreds injured. There was not sufficient security in place and the on-site medical was quickly overwhelmed, people were passing out in the crowd, fans were screaming for the show to stop, yet it kept going.

Pictures and videos quickly poured out from the event depicting the chaos that was ensuing. In some of the pictures and videos, you can see the crowd trying to stop the show as people around them were being attended to, but to no avail. Fingers were immediately being pointed at Scott, who was performing at the time, as he did not stop performing even as there was an ambulance was in the crowd.

In a Washington Post article, it was discovered that seven of the people who died at the concert were all in the same area where people were seen collapsing from the crowd. Three of the victims were found in a group of fallen attendees after 16 minutes into the show that would go on for almost another hour. Mohammed Amleh and a friend were at the concert and said to the Washington Post “We were trying to get out, but we just kept getting pushed forward and forward.”

After a performance at a second stage by musician SZA, attendees began heading toward the main stage, which was already crowded, for Scott’s performance. The festival’s security was provided by a private company. Houston police and fire department were assigned there as well. In a press conference the day after the event, Houston Fire Chief Samuel Peña said that the size of the crowd and the number of injuries occurring quickly overwhelmed the private company that provided the security and medical personnel.

Things seemed to be getting out of hand early in the day as videos came out showing concertgoers breaking through a VIP security entrance, knocking over metal detectors, and ignoring security personnel. Houston Police Chief Troy Finner had met with Scott before his performance to talk about the energy of the crowd and its possible danger. Finner also the show was not stopped sooner for fear of rioting from the crowd of nearly 50,000 fans.

Fans were rambunctious to see Scott perform, and things were quickly out of hands. There was no clear control over the crowd and even those stuck within the crowd had little they could do to get out of it. On-site medical had little they could do as they were overwhelmed with injured attendees. Security had little control over the crowd, and Scott seemed to not want to stop the show.

This is not the first time something like this has happened at the festival. In 2019, three people were hospitalized from being trampled as fans were again trying to get into the festival by climbing over fences and barricades. Scott has a past with encouraging this type of action. In 2017, Scott encouraged fans to bypass security to rush the stage which left a security guard, a police officer, and several others with injuries which led to him being arrested.

From the 2019 incident, Scott had posted a video of the crowd climbing over the barricade with the caption “DA YOUTH DEM CONTROL THE FREQUENCY. EVERYONE HAVE FUN. RAGERS SET TONE WHEN I COME OUT TONIGHT. BE SAFE RAGE HARD” which not only dismisses the danger of these actions but also encourages it when you ask “ragers” to set the tone.

While Scott’s fans range from all ages and sex, most of his fans are teenagers and those in their early twenties. Those that died because of the events at the festival were between the ages of 9-27. Scott undoubtedly has an influence on his fans, and even though he might not have hyped up his fans directly at the performance, the tone was already set early by those who broke through security and by Scott’s past of wanting his fans to get loud and rowdy.

Scott has come out to say that he would cover all funeral costs for those who died at the festival and the promoters of the festival said that refunds have been offered to those who purchased tickets. Lawsuits have begun to be filed against Scott as well as festival organizers.

This is not something that could have been entirely prevented, however, it could have been better prepared for.

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