Bluesfest fans express concern over violent encounters at festival
There are growing concerns about security at Bluesfest. Several teenage concert goers have reported violent encounters that have landed them in the hospital. Thursday is a big night at Ottawa Bluesfest with Migos and Lil Yachty. Up to 20,000 people are expected to attend and for this night only, Bluesfest is not allowing in and out of the concert area after 6 p.m. in order to try to control the crowd size.
Bluesfest says security is tight for its event and that the festival is safe.
But some concert goers aren't so sure.
Destiny Paquette ribs are still tender, her ear in stitches after she says a violent encounter at Ottawa Bluesfest Saturday night.
“We weren't plastered, we were coherent,” she says, “all we wanted to do is see 50 Cent.”
The 19-year-old and her boyfriend were at the concert, waiting for the American rapper to take the stage when she says 3 girls accused her of pushing them. One went for her pierced ear.
“As you can see there's a rip that goes straight up as well,” the teen says, “I ended up fainting and ended up on the ground and got trampled which resulted in fractured or bruised ribs.”
The teen went to the hospital that night and filed a police report as well.
“There’s a bunch of things going on and no one is doing anything about it,” says Will Glenn, Paquette’s boyfriend, “Security did not help her at all, they just stared at her.”
There’s a similar story from the parents of a 15-year-old boy who says 6 men in their 20's attacked him in the mosh pit at the RL Grime concert Tuesday. He also ended up at the hospital.
“I didn't ever think grown men would want to punch the living daylights out of a child,” says the boy’s mother Tracy Best.
“They started punching him, kicking him,” says the father Dave White, “the one yelled, “kick him harder”, he's not going down.”
They, too, say security did not come to their son's aid.
“If it's going to be ongoing, they need to double security,” says Best, “first and foremost has to be safety.”
But festival organizers say with 100 to 200 security guards, they don't feel Bluesfest is unsafe. Executive Director Mark Monahan says he can’t comment on specific cases but they do everything within their means to ensure the venue is as safe as possible.
“We do feel that our people are properly trained,” Monahan said, “We always review this post-festival, given any incidents that may have happened and look at how we could do things better and that's a big priority for the festival.”
That's not enough for Destiny Paquette's mother.
“Nobody is looking to sue anyone, or take it that far,” says Chantel Paquette, “We just want things to change for next year so our children are safe.”
In anticipation of a big crowd Thursday night, there will not be any “in and outs” of the festival after 6 p.m. to try process the line-up and ensure security.