On June 15th, Canadian hip-hop artist Drake was scheduled to play a free set at New York City’s South Street Seaport. But before Drake was even able to take the stage, New York City Police Department shut things down and required the crowd to disperse, because of what was characterized as a near riot. Fox News reported that the “evening ended with chairs being thrown into the crowd, mace being sprayed, and reports of table being tossed from a second floor balcony.”
Problems began around 3PM when crowds steadily started to flow in. By the time the show was supposed to begin, it is estimated that there were 25,000 people on hand at a venue that was meant to hold only 10,000. A spokesperson for South Street Seaport responded to the incident stating:
While the South Street Seaport and Paper Magazine were looking forward to a great kick-off concert for the summer season, our primary concern is always the safety of our guests. Unfortunately, by the announced showtime, both the Seaport management and NYPD estimated that the onsite crowd had greatly exceeded this safe capacity, was still rising, and the show could no longer be presented in a safe atmosphere.
Things got ugly when the crowd on the upper levels began to throw bottles and other projectiles onto the crowd below. the masses on the main level volleyed by throwing things at the spectators above.
Eventually there were metal chairs being thrown from the upper levels. One local publication, Sound of the City, described the situation saying:
As things escalated, the bottles turned from plastic to glass. Then, at the peak of the fight, kids on the upper level began tossing steel chairs off the balcony. That was when people really started to run. It was also about at that moment that the police finally broke through the crowd and stormed the second level, where they too were momentarily pelted with bottles. We watched a few kids on the deck attempt to shove or otherwise assault the cops who were trying desperately to clear them out. In turn, more than one officer took out her baton, though the police had the situation in hand relatively quickly.After that, it was mostly crowd dispersal, and stray fights. Helicopters buzzed overhead. Standing across from the Seaport, we watched hundreds of kids suddenly went scrambling away from the stage area in terror. We asked one why he was running. “Mace,” he said.
New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly blamed the even organizers for being poorly prepared. As a result of the scrap, 7 people were injured and 2 arrests were made.
New York doesn’t exactly have a great track record when it comes to free concerts. In fall of 2009, there was a similar situation at Roosevelt Field Mall when a crowd was anticipating a Justin Bieber appearance.
Some people choose to learn from other people’s mistakes. In this case, the Drake riot has caused hip-hop giant Jay-Z to cancel his public performance that was supposed to take place on the marquis of the Ed Sullivan theater before an appearance on the Letterman show.