Rock Fans Rampage At Free Concert In Los Angeles

By | September 4, 2001 at 12:00 AM

Hundreds of rock music fans went on the rampage at a free concert in Hollywood on Monday night, trashing the stage and raining rocks and bottles on police, who replied with tear gas and rubber bullets, officials said.

Los Angeles Police Department spokesman Jason Lee, describing the scene as “a small disturbance,” said about 10,000 people were at the event, which was a promotion for fast-rising local rock band System Of A Down.

When several hundred fans were unable to gain access to a fenced parking lot enclosure where the concert was due to take place for 3,500 people, they jumped the barricades and rushed forward. Fire officials canceled the concert before the group had taken the stage and called in police.

A spokeswoman for System Of A Down’s record company told Reuters the group offered in vain to play if it would help restore calm. But by then, fans had jumped onto the stage, toppled large speaker stacks, and damaged or hauled off the group’s expensive equipment. Video news footage showed fansrunning off with the group’s property, such as microphone stands and drum heads.

About 160 police officers, some on horseback, dispersed the crowd and arrested six people for such offenses as assault with a deadly weapon, felony vandalism and receiving stolen property, Lee told Reuters.

Some officers and horses were hit by flying debris, but he said there were no reports of injuries among fans. The crowd was cleared in about 20 minutes, he said.

The band’s manager told a local TV station the melee was “absolutely, 100 percent avoidable.” If officials had let the band play their music or explain the problem, “there was still a remedy, there was still a way to get out of that situation,” David Benveniste told KABC-TV.

Another TV news report quoted Benveniste as saying that $30,000 worth of the band’s equipment was destroyed or stolen.

Lee added that nearby automobiles were damaged and windows of neighboring businesses were smashed. Adjacent streets looked like war zones, people at the concert said. The concert was set to take place next to the Vynyl nightclub, which is a just a block away from the famed Hollywood Boulevard.

The System Of A Down concert was designed to help promote the group’s hotly anticipated new album, “Toxicity,” which is due in stores on Tuesday.

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