By Stacy M. Brown | NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
HOUSTON (NNPA) – Travis Scott’s Astroworld festival now has led to 9 deaths and multiple lawsuits. But the ill-fated event still has many asking who should be held responsible.
Rumors have persisted as to what happened, and questions linger about what safety measures were in place for the 50,000 attendees.
Some have taken direct aim at Scott, with renowned civil rights attorney Ben Crump announcing he has filed 93 lawsuits on behalf of more than 200 clients.
“Live Nation is the biggest concert promoter in the world and, yes, Travis Scott is on the lawsuit,” Crump declared at a news conference on Friday, November 12.
“People who lost their lives deserve answers and we’re not going to let anyone off the hook,” Crump demanded.
Scott maintains that he had no clue that something was amiss.
Dijan Isaacs, a 31-year-old who attended the concert and who Crump represents, described the chaos.
“People were grabbing at me, and I was just trying to pull people up,” Isaacs recalled at the Crump news conference. “I learned that two people next to me died.”
However, Isaac said he noticed that Scott did display his concern for the crowd.
For some, that just wasn’t enough.
“Everybody in that venue, starting from the artist on down, has a responsibility for public safety,” Houston Fire Chief Samuel Peña demanded.
James Crawford, the co-founder and CEO of the e-commerce platform DealDrop said regardless of security measures, Scott shoulders a big part of the blame.
“If the performing artist has succeeded in captivating the audience, it is not difficult for them to persuade certain elements of the crowd to do anything they want them to,” Crawford remarked.
“Artists do have the capability to induce an almost trance-like state in the audience, and with proper manipulation, this can easily become a form of mind control. In these situations, the artist must accept responsibility for the effect on their followers.”
Authorities said the show continued for at least 40 minutes after injuries were first reported. Houston Police Chief Troy Finner told journalists that he met with Scott before the show and expressed concern about crowd control.
Finner did not ask Scott to cancel the event.
“The ultimate authority to end a show is with production and the entertainer, and that should be through communication with public safety officials,” Finner said following the deadly concert. “We don’t hold the plug,” he demanded.
The chief also reported that an individual involved in Astroworld’s production was contacted and told to stop the show.
However, a plan has surfaced that revealed the show’s executive producer and the festival’s director as the only individuals empowered to halt activities.
Still, some said those facts don’t absolve Scott.
“Travis Scott has a conviction for reckless conduct after encouraging fans to rush the stage at another festival in 2015 and again at an indoor venue in 2017,” Crawford stated.
“There are no indications that he made any such suggestions at Astroworld but given previous incidents, the possibility of it happening should have been prepared,” he said.
Some hip hop artists demurred at the suggestion that Scott could have prevented the chaos and death that ensued at Astroworld.
“When you’re on stage performing, and when you go back and look, Travis Scott has these earplugs in his ears because otherwise, you can’t hear the music from the set,” said SpitSlam Record Label Group hip hop artist Memphis Jelks.
“So, he’s not hearing what people are yelling at him, so if they’re saying stop the show, he’s only hearing the music,” Jelks continued.
“He sees the crowd mosh-pitting, and that’s normal.”
Jelks asserted that the job of the artist isn’t to act as security.
“The artist is doing a job. He’s being paid a certain amount of money to perform for a crowd who paid to see him,” Jelks insisted.
“You have to have measures in place before a show starts. This is more so on the security, the venue, and Live Nation, the corporation behind this.”
Hall of Fame Hip Hop Pioneer and Public Enemy frontman Chuck D, who founded SpitSlam Record Label Group, defended Scott on Twitter.
“How they blame Travis Scott for this is crazy. It’s sheer stupidity,” remarked Chuck D.
He recalled a 1987 Public Enemy concert in which the legendary group erroneously received blame for the death of two girls trampled in a stampede in Nashville.
“We were in a hotel,” he tweeted. CNN blamed Public Enemy. We were banned for three years from there and some other arenas.”
After an investigation, officials absolved Public Enemy of blame.
“The hardest thing in the USA is learning something from a Black person,” Chuck D declared. “Not only am I pulling a race card, it’s the size of a placard.”
The National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), known as the Black Press of America, is the federation of more than 200 Black community newspapers in the United States.