Intelligence Report: Lollapalooza gatecrashers

August 9, 2011 4:28:08 AM PDT
Chicago police officials say they shouldn't be considered "bouncers" for privately managed events such as Lollapalooza.

Last weekend's music festival was plagued by hundreds of people who got in without paying.

In Monday night's Intelligence Report: Videos of Lollapalooza gatecrashers show that little was done to stop them.

The 20th annual Lollapalooza music festival drew a record crowd of more than 270,000 people. Some of them didn't pay to get in, bypassing the $90 to more than $200 ticket costs by either climbing the fences or just trampling them. Since Lollapalooza is a private event with private security, videos show that the private guards were simply overpowered.

One home video shows a large group of people arriving at all once -- some investigators believe after being summoned on Facebook or Twitter. Then, they are seen racing toward the Lollapalooza gate and toppling the fence. In the upper right hand corner, two gate guards in blue T-shirts get out of the way; then, they're seen trying to flag down Chicago police.

About 30 seconds into the video of this gate-crashing event, two Chicago police officer run up the stairs to block the festival entrance.

A police squadron is called in, and officers make numerous arrests lining up the fence jumpers they could catch on the sidewalk. But judging by this video and others on YouTube, most of the Lollapalooza lawbreakers got past private security guards at the gates.

"I don't think it's acceptable, obviously. But being a private event, it's not up to us to be bouncers. We're there to provide for the public safety. We don't work as bouncers for admission purposes," said Chicago Police Supt. Gary McCarthy.

Another video shows one of several skirmishes that had to be broken up by private guards and some off-duty Chicago police employed as security for the three-days of concerts that on occasion appeared more like an Ultimate Fighting event.

On Monday, Chicago police officials said 27 arrests were made and 144 people were given citations for various city violations.

Show promoter C3 Presents from Austin, Texas says Monday they had several new security procedures in place including: more snow fencing along Lake Shore Drive, double fencing near entrances and additional police barricades to deter gatecrashers.

The promoter claims more security was added, an extra Chicago police bicycle team was hired and they requested more city patrol cars around Grant Park.

The promoter also says that they have seen an increase in flash mobs and gatecrashers at events across the U.S., and they insist that extra precautions were taken last weekend in Chicago to protect patrons and staff of Lollapalooza.

Statement from Lollapalooza promoter
Lisa Hickey, C3 Presents

"We have seen an increase in the number of flash mobs of gatecrashers, and are aware this is a national phenomenon on the up-rise for theft and robbery all over the country. After last year's flash mobs, we DID take extra precautions to prevent the crashing, as well as to better protect the safety of our staff, festival patrons, and the jumpers themselves.

"These precautions include: installed snow fencing the entire length of Lakeshore from Monroe to South of Roosevelt on the east and west side of Lakeshore; placed police barricades and staff on the east side of Lakeshore at Balbo and Jackson allowing patrons to only cross on Monroe or the footpath for the museum; placed festival security staff on the east side of Lakeshore to stop people from crossing; increased Lakeshore perimeter security staffing; double fenced heavily jumped areas on the festival perimeter to make it less attractive to fence jumpers; requested CPD increase their uniform staff on Lakeshore; installed a 6 foot chain link fence the entire length of Lakeshore along the east side of the road; and hired an extra team of CPD bike officers JUST to work the Lakeshore side of the park.

"Again, safety is always a priority, and while I do not know which video you are referencing, in many cases our security staff used their judgment to best protect themselves and other festival patrons. In many instances our staff were out-numbered significantly, even with our increases.

"We work closely with Chicago Police to manage the crowds and safety of all staff and patrons attending the event. While we have done more than was expected to prevent injuries and deter illegal behavior, we will continue to look for new and inventive ways to deal with these issues."

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