Astroworld Operations Plan Reportedly Instructed Staff to Refer to Dead Concertgoers as 'Smurfs'

The Friday event included a 56-page document for organizers, obtained by CNN, which detailed some potential concerns about the intended two-day festival.

A woman seen kneeling by candles outside NRG Park

Photo by THOMAS SHEA/AFP via Getty Images

A woman seen kneeling by candles outside NRG Park

An operations plan for Astroworld Festival 2021—which saw the deaths of 8 concertgoers, with over 300 others injured—mentioned that potential deceased victims were to be called “smurfs” in lieu of using the word “dead,” according to CNN

The Friday event included a 56-page document for organizers, which detailed concerns about the intended two-day festival. 

“Based on the site’s layout and numerous past experiences, a Security Plan has been established to help mitigate potential negative issues within the scope of the festival,” the document obtained by CNN reads. “The potential for multiple alcohol/drug related incidents, possible evacuation needs, and the ever-present threat of a mass casualty situation are identified as key concerns.”

From the Astroworld Event Operations Plan: The staff was instructed to refer to dead concertgoers as “Smurfs”.

— Mike Sington (@MikeSington) November 9, 2021

The document included plans for possible riot or civil unrest, an active shooter, and even weather difficulties, sharing that staff were expected to tip Event Control about dead concertgoers by using the code “smurf”—a possible reference to the ‘80s Hanna-Barbera cartoon and comic series of the same name.

“Never use the term ‘dead’ or ‘deceased’ over the radio,” the plan reportedly read. 

“In any situation where large groups of people are gathering there is the potential for a civil disturbance/riot that can present a grave risk to the safety and security of employees and guests,” the document said. “The key in properly dealing with this type of scenario is proper management of the crowd from the minute the doors open.”

The plan notes that both the executive producer and festival director are the only people with the authority to stop the concert.

“It doesn’t even really appear in what is the equivalent of the Astroworld’s crowd management plan,” Paul Wertheimer, founder and president of Crowd Management Strategies, explained to CNN. “There’s no reference to crowd surge, crowd crush, crowd panic. There’s no reference to the front of the stage and festival seating crowd. And therefore, there’s no specific emergency planning for a mass casualty crowd crush event.”

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