On September 29, 2018, there was an outdoor festival in Central Park in New York in which nothing bad actually happened. This immediately preceded my participation at the International Festivals & Events Association annual conference in San Diego, then the American Bar Association’s Forum on the Entertainment and Sports Industries in Las Vegas, where I spoke about things that did happen at live events.
The problem in New York was that people in the crowd believed that there was an active shooter in their midst, and they responded by running in all directions, including over and through some bike rack, looking to flee from the perceived threat. Later, some attendees claimed to have suffered trample-related injuries. Predictably, the media asked if crowd managers now have to deal with not only real threats, but perceived threats as well.
Here is a short video containing my response.
Incidentally, I was interviewed a couple of days later by a local TV station here in Phoenix about arrangements for the President’s rally scheduled for suburban Mesa, Arizona this Friday. I explained that while the Secret Service and law enforcement officials from federal, state, and local agencies will work together to protect this president, as they do with every Chief Executive, it is reasonably foreseeable that the crowd will have a heightened expectation of conflict and protest, if not actual violence.
As we saw in New York, such expectations have a tendency to become self-fulfilling prophecies. I hope the crowd managers for this rally are planning accordingly.
[Postscript: The rally in Mesa took place without incident. With a tightly controlled environment, one can work wonders.]