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DJs condemn unruly concert fans at New Jersey stadium

Posted June 8, 2015

Jim Norman, Jeff Green & Stephanie Dazio - Tribune News Service -

 

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - DJs on Monday morning condemned music fans who climbed over fences and hurled bottles at police outside the sold-out Summer Jam concert at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey on Sunday night.

“You can’t just jump the fence and then get mad and throw bottles,” said Ebro, of the “Ebro in the Morning” show on his morning broadcast on New York’s Hot 97 FM.

“You cannot throw bottles at police,” added Laura Stylez. “What is wrong with you?”

The DJs said most fans inside the stadium enjoyed the concert and didn’t have any problems with authorities.

State Police said crowds tried to illegally enter the sold-out concert by climbing over fences and forcing their way through security personnel. Troopers in riot gear called in two Bearcat armored personnel carriers and shot streams of pepper spray gas as angry concertgoers hurled bottles, according to reports from the scene.

Information about the number of arrests and injuries was not available Monday morning. Debris littered the ground outside the stadium Monday morning, including food, bottles, cups, broken glass, charcoal and ashes.

Similar incidents have occurred during Summer Jam before. In 1999, hundreds of people rushed the gates, pushed over a fence and jumped turnstiles to try and get into the sold-out concert.

“Bottles were thrown, tapes and CDs were used as weapons and flung like flying saucers,” state police Lt. Jim Walsh, who coordinated the police response, said in 1999.

A year later, state police - who had beefed up their presence at the concert after the 1999 clashes - used pepper spray after concertgoers stormed the stadium’s gates, some using bolt cutters to cut through the fence and others trying to break open gate locks with pieces of wood and rocks.

After the back-to-back confrontations, officials questioned if Summer Jam should continue at MetLife Stadium.

On Sunday, the concert, with headliners Kendrick Lamar and Chris Brown, continued despite the unrest.

“When fans realized tickets were not available at the box office, a small number of people created an unsafe environment, and for the safety of all guests, the New Jersey State Police were on scene to disperse the crowd. The gates were closed at that time. No further entry was permitted into the event,” Hot 97 said in a statement on its website. “For ticket holders whose tickets were not scanned, refunds will be offered at the point of purchase.”

Eyewitnesses said police used sound generators to produce a screeching, ear-pounding noise in an effort to disperse the crowd, only to see it regroup and attack with bottles at another site in the parking lot.

Hundreds of troopers and police officers called in from nearby communities pushed back against crowds of people angry that they could not get into the stadium, using clubs and riot shields.

Shortly after 11 p.m., State Police issued an official statement on the unrest at the stadium.

“This evening, security personnel at one of the entrance gates to MetLife Stadium were confronted by crowds attempting to illegally enter the sold out Summer Jam concert by climbing over fences and forcing their way through security personnel,” the statement said, adding, “The gates have been shut and troopers on site have called for assistance from several nearby stations to help maintain order.

”Troopers and stadium security officials are insisting that all people outside of the gates depart the MetLife grounds to avoid congestion when the concert lets out,“ the statement said. ”There is no number of arrests available at this time.“

A news photographer said Sunday that he was hit over the head by a trooper with a riot shield as he sought to take photographs of the unfolding mayhem. The photographer, Tyson Trish, said that he was not badly hurt in the incident.

Trish said he could smell the pepper spray, described as ”OC gas,“ or oleoresin capsicum, an irritant frequently used to control crowds in confrontational situations.

Hot 97’s Ebro also took to social media to address fans who complained about the police response.

”Well if people try to jump the gate and rush police. Yes I’m shutting it down. We don’t know if those people have weapons or their intentions. We are not jeopardizing the whole event for a few dummies. The gates open at 2P at the Festival and 530P at the Stadium…. It’s unfortunate that a few idiots come to try and test this event we have had success with for 23yrs. … My apologies to anyone left out, but I WILL NEVER allow this event to be ruined by some lazy idiots that didn’t wanna spend $40 on some tickets,“ he wrote on Instagram.

On Twitter, he said: ”I wonder if they pay people to try and start trouble at Summer Jam, so they van (sic) talk bad about it. U know people don’t like success right.“

Dwayne Everett, 36, of Manhattan, said he was waiting near the front of the line to get in with a $90 ticket he had purchased from StubHub, when the gates were suddenly closed and police started to shoot pepper spray at him and the rest of the crowd.

About 11:15 p.m., as the concert drew to a close, people inside began to file out and expressed shock at the remnants of glass and trash that they were seeing.

”I didn’t think I’d see this,“ said one concert-goer, who declined to give his name.

Another, who said her name was Misha and that she came from Jamaica, Queens, said she had been unaware that anything was happening outside the stadium as she sat inside. ”It was fabulous,“ she said, adding that she ”had a blast.“ But she expressed concern that the incident would cause MetLife to refuse to host the event again. ”This right here will stop Summer Jam,“ she said.

Grace Gale, 22, of Westchester County, said she had been surprised to see entire sections of vacant seats inside the stadium.

The disturbance started about 7 p.m., when a fight broke out among concertgoers and police shut the gates to prevent more people from going in. Fences and metal barriers were trampled in the surge of people angered that they could not get in.

One group of concertgoers said they had paid $1,400 to charter a bus to bring them to the stadium from Brooklyn, in addition to as much as $600 each for tickets to the event. But when they arrived they found the venue locked down and they were unable to get in.