Music party promoter counts cost after arrest
A concert promoter claims he lost out on thousands of dollars destined for charity after a dispute over crowd control at a music party resulted in his arrest.
Police say Andrew Phillips was detained because he presented a threat to public order through talk about “agitating” the crowd at Snorkel Park.
They said the arrest came after he showed a “disregard for public safety” at the Loco 2012 Ravin Mix Party at the Dockyard venue.
However, Mr Phillips believes his comment that he was going to “agitate on the mike” was misunderstood by a non-Bermudian police officer, and led to his wrongful arrest.
“This gentleman was a foreigner and he didn’t understand my accent or my intentions,” he said, explaining that he was merely referring to his job as MC.
“I have run events for 22 years and it’s not ever our place to incite our people. The gentleman just didn’t understand.”
He has filed an official complaint over his arrest at the party on Saturday July 21, which featured British DJ David Rodigan and Jamaican DJ Tony Matterhorn.
Funds raised through the tickets, which cost $30 and $40, will go towards youth work in the community including youth conferences, annual trips to the United Nations, health programmes and educational work in the media.
There were 17 security guards present, working for the firm DPA.
“The event kicked off with a bang, and when the crowd started to get upwards from 900 to over 1,000, Snorkel Park started to shut the gates on the people, alienating some 300-plus people outside the event,” Mr Phillips told The Royal Gazette.
“Some of them had already paid and some hadn’t. When I asked why they shut the gates, they stated that I had 17 security guards and there had to be one security guard per 50 people and it was over that with my crowd.
“I really felt that was malicious on behalf of the Snorkel Park management, because it was peaceful and everybody was having a good time and it would only serve to cause pandemonium with people outside the gate.”
Mr Phillips, who is CEO of Animal Entertainment, said his staff approached police outside the venue to make that point.
“The police officers inside were agreeing that it was peaceful. The police at that point, to ease the tension, let some more people in. This was approximately 12.30am to 12.45am,” he said.
However, Mr Phillips got involved in a verbal dispute with the Snorkel Park management over the refusal to let the rest of the people inside. He said he faced losing tens of thousands of dollars in revenue, and felt that shutting the gates was “an attempt to somewhat sabotage the show” by Snorkel Park management.
“It is not so much an attack on our entity as much as it a blatant attack on a community project that is much needed in these hard times,” he said.
According to Mr Phillips, the Inspector in charge of policing the event told him he was inciting people, and inquired if he was going back inside the venue.
“I said, ‘yes, I agitate on the mike. That’s what I do’.”
According to Mr Phillips, the Inspector believed that meant he was going to agitate the crowd.
“He said ‘you just had a disagreement with Snorkel Park management and you have the power to incite thousands of people and I’m going to arrest you’,” reported Mr Phillips.
“I said I had been in the industry a long time and that was not my intention.”
Mr Phillips, 48, from Somerset, was handcuffed and taken to Hamilton Police Station where he was kept until 3.25am before being released without charge.
He said he has a good relationship with the police, and does not wish to sound like he is attacking them. However, he is disappointed with the way the Inspector in question, who he believes to be English, handled the situation.
He has formally complained about his treatment, which he characterises as harassment by the police. Meanwhile, he said he is unhappy that around 1,400 people attended the concert in the end, when he had expected 2,000.
“I lost thousands of dollars in revenue for youth initiatives,” he complained. “We lost our gate (revenue) at prime time as there were people left outside the locked gate and the news went around on Facebook and BlackBerry Messenger that the event had been shut down.”
He insists that Snorkel Park management made the wrong decision to close the gate, and he had provided adequate security. He said there is no law about having to have one security guard per 50 people.
“We had hired 17 security guards, which is the same amount that we used in the 6,000 people Collie Buddz show held in 2007,” he said.
Mr Phillips had a follow-up meeting with Western Area Commander and Acting Chief Inspector Robert Cardwell, and anticipates that more talks will be held with police in future.
“I am interested in the talks. The police are the ones I have to deal with but the damage has been done,” he said.
“I would like them to clarify that they made a mistake so that my reputation can be intact, and I am going to keep pushing for that.”
He added: “I know that hundreds of people witnessed this atrocity. Many have come to me to show their support and I thank all of them.”
Asked about Mr Phillips’ concerns, Acting Chief Inspector Cardwell replied: “It would not be prudent for me to comment on any particular individual.”
However, he said: “I am aware that police officers on duty in the area were caused to intervene between a verbal disagreement between an organiser of an event at this venue and the head of security.
“The disagreement was over a decision security had made that they were at capacity with patrons and they had made the responsible decision to close the gates on additional patrons entering.
“Police, having assessed the decision made by security, supported the decision. Despite police intervention they were unable to satisfy or reason with the organiser whose actions and stated intentions deteriorated and caused the Incident Commander on the ground at that location to become concerned that his efforts to maintain public order and public safety inside and outside of this venue, through the combined efforts of security personnel and police personnel, was at risk.”
Acting Chief Insp Cardwell said he has reviewed a report from the Incident Commander, who has advanced training in public order.
“In this case and in the face of disregard for public safety that had been demonstrated, the Incident Commander made the decision to remove the person causing the threat to public safety and caused his arrest to prevent a breach of the peace. This particular function continued and ended without public disorder or further incident,” he said.
Acting Chief Insp Cardwell said he has referred Mr Phillips’ complaint to the Service Discipline Officer.
Devrae Noel-Simmons, chief operating officer with DPA security, said Mr Phillips originally agreed to pay for 23 DPA security officers to guard the venue, but decided on the day that there would be 17, plus two dog handlers provided by him. This was based on an estimated crowd of 2,000.
According to Mr Noel-Simmons the dog handlers failed to show and concerns began to mount over security once there were 900 patrons inside the venue — which has three points of entry — and another 300 waiting outside.
He said the decision to temporarily close the gate, made after consulting with the police, allowed his firm the opportunity to rearrange staff inside to do “double duty” and ensure the venue was safe.
However, he said, Mr Phillips “flared up” and accused the management and police of trying to jeopardise his business, and began “swinging his arms about” before stating: “I’m going inside to tell these people you’re closing the party and the reason why is because you don’t want me to make any money.”
Mr Noel-Simmons said 1,416 people attended the party in the end, and it was ultimately trouble-free.
Tom Steinhoff, director of Snorkel Park, also said that Mr Phillips did not provide adequate numbers of security guards.
“We were under the watchful eye of the police and we were just trying to abide by the law to protect our liquor licence and the name of our establishment. That’s where the frustration came and it’s regrettable that he (Mr Phillips) reacted in such a way. The event went great and there were no incidents at all,” he said.
“We are very cautious with security in this age and environment and we hope people feel Snorkel Park is one of the safer venues.”
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