The public has placed the blame on everyone from Houston police officers to the concert promoters as well as Travis Scott, all of whom have been accused of failing to stop the event amid growing safety concerns. However, a newly surfaced operations plan for the music festival reveals there were only two people who had the authority to stop the show.
According to CNN, the detailed plan did not specifically address instances of a crowd surge like the one that occurred at NRG Park on Friday, but laid out the chain of command in the event of emergencies. The document states the executive producer and festival organizer were the only ones who had the power to pull the plug, though it remains unclear who exactly held those roles.
“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 56-page document 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.”
Houston Police Chief Troy Finner previously confirmed there were more than 500 officers on site at the time of the “mass casualty” event, but said there were concerns that halting the show would intensify the disorder.
“You cannot just close when you got 50,000 and over 50,000 individuals,” he told the New York Times. “We have to worry about rioting, riots, when you have a group that’s that young.”
Houston Fire Chief Samuel Peña previously stated “everyone at the event [had] a responsibility” to ensure the crowd’s safety, including Scott, who started the annual festival in 2018.
“At one point, there was an ambulance that was trying to make its way through the crowd. And he’s got, the artist (Scott) has, command of that crowd,” Peña said Tuesday, per NBC News. “The artist, if he notices something that’s going on, he can certainly pause that performance, turn on the lights and say, ‘Hey, we’re not going to continue until this thing is resolved.’ That’s one way to do it, yes.”
Footage taken during Scott’s performance shows the Houston rapper stopping his set multiple times after realizing the audience was becoming increasingly chaotic.
In a video posted to Instagram on Saturday, Scott expressed his condolences to everyone affected by the tragedy. “I could just never imagine the severity of the situation. … I’m honestly just devastated. I could never imagine anything like this just happening,” he said.
As some have pointed out, Scott has a history of inciting disorderly conduct during his live performances. In 2015, the now-30-year-old was sentenced to one year of court supervision after pleading guilty to reckless conduct charge stemming from his Lollapalooza set. Chicago authorities said Scott urged the crowd to climb over security barricades and make their way to the stage. A similar incident occurred during a 2017 concert in Arkansas, when Scott told fans to bypass security so they could get a closer view. That incident resulted in multiple injuries, and Scott was ordered to pay restitution to two injured people.
Several months later, Kyle Green sued Scott over the injuries he sustained during an April 2017 concert at New York’s Terminal 5. Green claimed he was pushed off a venue balcony after the rapper encouraged the audience to take a leap. The plaintiff reportedly suffered a fractured vertebrae, fractured ankle, a broken wrist, and was left paralyzed on his left side.
In his Saturday IG video, Scott insisted he always tries to intervene when he sees concertgoers in danger. “My fans really mean the world to me, and I always wanna leave them with a positive experience, and anytime I can make out anything that’s going on, I stop the show and help them get the help they need, you know?” he said.
Amid the circulating articles and videos about the raucous nature of some of Scott’s past concerts, there’s also footage showing him doing what he said on Instagram—looking closely after his fans: