Sunday, March 20, 2011

Death From Above cause 'riot'; CBC vanishes article

Nasty scenes as overexcitement and undersized venues combined to turn Death From Above 1979's comeback show into a riot.

Consequence Of Sound's Jeremy D Larson was inside:

From inside, we witnessed firsthand a man being repeatedly punched in the face by a police officer. This was all happening as the band played. As DFA 1979 finished “Romantic Rights” (I believe), two or three police walked on stage, followed by a man in charge of the venue.

“The alley needs to be cleared in ten minutes or the show is over,” said the man. He was met with a mixed reaction from the crowd — no one wanted the show to end, but those of us inside — or at least myself — had no problems with the people watching. During the ten minutes, police stood by as those in the alley reluctantly dispersed. A report came back that two to three people were arrested, and as of posting, this is still unconfirmed. Meanwhile, Grainger told some yuck-yuck jokes and jawed with the audience about their rehearsals and previous setlists. It was unnerving but commendable.
CBC's Radio 3 blog also had a story on the riot, which appeared about an hour ago but has since vanished from their site. What's interesting about the CBC story is it suggests there wasn't actually any need for cops on horses to turn up with pepper spray:
I, like many, got close to the gaping space when the fence came down. I shot photos, took video, so many did. It was scary, but after no one rushed the stage, I felt a bit relieved. It was obvious the fans outside wanted to be there, wanted to be cooperative, wanted to dance around and experience the bands first show since 2005.

The security at Beauty Bar also did a great job of securing the fence, holding it up with their bodies, and even some rope. From what I saw, they were trying to accommodate fans on both sides of the fence.

Things seemed to be going well, the band resumed playing, everyone started dancing. Then the riot police showed up on horseback. They sideswiped the crowd, pepper spraying and even tasing some fans. The band stopped playing, the fans were given 10 minutes to clear the alley, if the fans didn’t leave, they would have to cancel the show.
From this, it sounds like a not-unusual crush at an overpopular gig was turned into a riot by the addition of heavy-handed policing - although the unnamed fan's account doesn't condemn the police:
Did I get scared? Yes. Did I think the fans, band and security handled it well? Absolutely. Do I blame the cops for showing up? No. I understand why they were called. If fans did rush the stage, cramping hundreds of excess people into a small fenced in space, their presence would have been definitely needed.
Maybe that's true, but did waving tasers round and spraying pepper into fans eyes' really help?

There's some footage on YouTube:

It's important to note that, once the cops had been, the gig continued to a peaceful conclusion, which is something that wouldn't normally happen after an actual riot.

[UPDATE: The CBC blog has reappeared, credited to Lana Gay.]