Thursday, August 28, 2008

... and you might be better off watching at home

Given what happened at the Radiohead Hollywood Bowl gig, the safest place to be watching the band tonight might be online. According to reports in LA Weekly, security guards working for the Bowl attacked Sean Carlson and Phil Hoelting, F-Yeah Fest founders. The pair filmed the strong-arming of a bloke being thrown out of the Bowl:

The guards, employees of CSC Security, the company contracted by the Bowl to provide protection, were being overly rough with him, alleges Carlson. “They're strangling him – brutally. He's gasping for air.” Reich turned his camera directly on the action as the CSC guards continued to restrain the man.

“The guy was screaming,” remembers Reich, “and trying to tell them that he would leave peacefully if they let him go.”

“The guard walked up to [Reich] and said, 'What the fuck do you think you're filming?' and grabbed at the camera,” says one eyewitness who requested anonymity for fear of retaliation. According to the witness, Carlson walked over to intervene, whereupon the security guard pushed Carlson to the ground, sending the flyers scattering across the pavement. Reich filmed this, as well. The eyewitness and his wife, not wanting to get involved, continued toward their car, but notified the L.A. police officers -- “at least six or seven of them,” he says -- stationed at the Bowl entry that there was trouble up above. He says that they did nothing.

As the pair left, one of the guards, it's claimed, suddenly realised that the video was the sort of thing that winds up on YouTube making people look bad, and a chase through traffic ensued as they tried to get the camera.

This is where it gets even worse - as the LA cops sat by and watched:
As Reich headed south on Highland, he spied one of the many police officers who patrol the Bowl. “I cut across and headed that way, thinking, 'He will prevent these guys from taking my tape.'” The guards caught up to him and allegedly tackled him in front of the officer. Another guard restrained Carlson, who was trying to help Reich secure the tape. Reich spotted bystander Dawes, and threw it to him. “I knew that then at least we'd be able to get the tape later,” reasoned Reich. “I figured, there's no way that the security guards are just going to assault this random dude in front of a cop.”

He was wrong. Remembers Dawes: “It landed within five feet of me. I leaned down to pick it up and I got tackled by two of the dudes. They threw me into that ivy-covered wall and I was trying to get them off me. At one point there were three guards on me. I threw the tape to Sean, and that's when it got really ugly.” Dawes alleges that one of the security guards threw Carlson into an electrical box. “He hurled him into it, then threw him onto the ground -- at this point there are two or three officers there. [The security guards] smashed his head into the pavement as they're trying to cuff him, the cops aren't doing anything. I'm yelling, 'Officer, this is your jurisdiction -- this isn't Hollywood Bowl property anymore. Don't let them do this.'” Dawes recalls that the officers replied that they “give event staff leeway.”

That's pretty bad - for the police to cheerfully admit they let a private security firm make the rules on public property seems to be the dereliction of about six types of duty; to allow them to actually assault people on the street really ought to be sacking offence.

After some more violence, according to the pair's tale, Carlson was handcuffed - again by private security - and marched back onto Hollywood Bowl property (that would seem to be kidnapping to us).

The lax attitude of cops towards the private security may partly be explained by the officially-sanctioned moonlighting of LA cops as on-site security.

The official cop response to the allegations:
Captain Girmala says that the Hollywood Bowl hires off-duty LAPD officers for crowd and traffic control issues. She says those officers are “supposed to help during the immediacy of an incident, and are directed to contact on-duty officers if it is determined to be necessary.” She adds that CSC security officers assigned to the Bowl are not permitted to carry actions outside of Hollywood Bowl property. “They're basically to stay within the venue itself, and if anything rises to the level of serious incident, they are to contact the police.” She says that the off-duty officers have radios that are in sync with CSC security.

Girmala says that she's waiting for a more thorough report on the incident, and will comment further once she's apprised of the situation.

The 'security should call the police if there's a serious incident' rule is a brilliant one. Unless, of course, it's security which is perpetrating the incident.

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