This week’s announcement of Travis Scott’s Project HEAL initiatives spurred swift criticism from the family of a young fan who died of compassion asphyxia due to the crowd crush incident at last year’s Astroworld Festival in Houston.
As detailed in separate reports this week from TMZ and Rolling Stone, the criticism from family members of nine-year-old Ezra Blount—who was initially placed in an induced coma after November’s festival incident and later died—has also taken a legal turn.
In court documents cited by TMZ on Friday, the fan’s father, Treston Blount, and mother are asking a judge to either amend a gag order so that all involved in festival-focused legal action (i.e. not solely lawyers) are barred from making public statements or do away with it outright.
In short, the argument is that statements like Scott’s Project HEAL unveiling could work toward swaying eventual jurors. In a reported response, Scott’s legal team is said to be arguing that it is instead Blount’s lawyer who violated the order by “publicly disparaging” the “Escape Plan” artist.
A Rolling Stone piece published earlier this week provides additional context, with Scott’s lawyers arguing that including him in the gag order for legal action (which, notably, also includes other co-defendants) would mark an “overly broad” move by the judge. Furthermore, it’s argued, adding Scott “runs afoul of the First Amendment” due to its potential of preventing Scott from speaking out about philanthropy-related endeavors that either preceded last year’s festival, or those that began “almost immediately afterward.”
Also quoted in the RS piece is Ezra Blount’s grandmother, who’s not involved with legal action but said Scott’s announcement was a “PR stunt,” as well as Scott spokesperson (and former Mayor of Baltimore) Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. Per Blake, it’s “disappointing” Blount’s lawyer is criticizing Project HEAL, which she says marks merely a “continuation” of Scott’s work in the philanthropic space.
When reached for comment by Complex on Friday, Blake offered the following in response to comments from lawyer Robert Hilliard:
“Hilliard’s bogus allegations fly in the face of logic. Travis’s support of charitable causes has been ongoing for years to help underprivileged young people graduate without debt, explore creative fields, and overcome mental health challenges.”
When unveiling the multi-tier Project HEAL endeavor this week—including his donation of $5 million—Scott connected the efforts to his grandfather’s history as an educator and (via a separate Instagram-shared statement) vowed that “actionable change” would be a lifelong focus for him and his family.
“I will always honor the victims of the Astroworld tragedy who remain in my heart forever,” he wrote.