Monday, August 30, 2010

Fans arrested at music festival
Country record for 2010 festival

Total custodies top last year's record
By Bill Stedman
Published: Thursday, August 26, 2010 1:43 PM EDT
Shortly after 9 p.m. on Saturday, Foxboro Police Chief Edward O'Leary was feeling a bit hopeful that the 2010 edition of the annual New England Country Music Festival at Gillette Stadium would not rival last year's event, where a record 287 concert-goers were taken into custody by Foxboro and other town police officers on stadium security details.

Shortly after 11:30 p.m., his hopes were dashed when the final festival fan was taken into custody for this year.

Despite fewer country music lovers in attendance, the number of people his force had taken into police custody for criminal acts and public intoxication in and around the stadium had reached a record 318, according to Foxboro police arrest logs.

Adding the 47 persons taken into custody by state police along Route 1, the grand total of 365 beats last year's record by 29.

State police arrested 26 people and took 21 into protective custody, according to Lt. Jeffrey Stuart, commander of the Foxboro State Police barracks on Route 1. Most of the arrests were for possession of alcohol by a minor, assault and battery and disorderly conduct, he said.

O'Leary, who is also head of security for stadium events, said some things went better than expected on Saturday, such as fewer minors arrested for possession of alcohol, while others didn't. He would not make an overall statement about the event, or its future in Foxboro, when asked Monday.

"I don't want to make that assessment right now," he said. "I want to look at the logs and thoughtfully review all reports with my staff and stadium personnel."

While he wasn't happy that the number of intoxicated festival-goers taken into protective custody rose by 26 from last year, he was relieved there were no serious incidents overall.

"No one was killed," he said. "And none of my officers was injured. They all got home safe."

Gillette Stadium officials praised the work of local and state security and medical personnel in keeping festival-goers safe throughout the afternoon and evening.

"We were pleased with the effectiveness of the plan developed by Chief O'Leary, Chief (Roger) Hatfield and Lt. Stuart," said Dan Murphy, Gillette Stadium Vice President of Business Development and External Affairs. "The work of the Foxboro Police, Foxboro Fire Department and state police allowed the vast majority of more than 50,000 concert goers to have a safe and enjoyable experience."

Crime down, drunks up

Of the 318 picked up by local police, 75 were arrested and face criminal charges (down from 90 last year) while 223 were determined to be so intoxicated as to pose a risk to themselves or others and taken into protective custody. That latter number is up from 197 in 2009.

There were 53 minors under the legal drinking age of 21 taken into protective custody, including seven juveniles ages 15-16.

Of the 75 criminal charges, the majority -- 48 -- were for possession of alcohol by a minor. The good news for O'Leary is that this number is down by 20 from the 2009 festival.

O'Leary said that last year, most of those taken into custody were picked up in the parking lots, as a result of excessive tailgating before fans entered the stadium for the actual concert. He estimated that only 11 or so were taken into custody from inside the stadium in 2009.

This year, however, "there were significantly more people taken into custody during the event," he said. "It just didn't stop ... we continued to pick up people throughout the night."

O'Leary's staff was making custodies during a nearly 12-hour period, causing numerous van trips between the stadium and the Public Safety Building on Chestnut Street, where police set up a temporary holding area in the back of the station reserved only for protective custody cases.

"That was a godsend," said O'Leary. "If we didn't have it, we would have had an extremely dangerous situation where we would have had to mix the criminal arrests with the many who were alcohol-impaired."

Even with the more-streamlined system for handling the drunken fans, which included bypassing the stadium holding areas for protective custodie cases by taking them directly to the Foxboro station, O'Leary said there were still some delays in processing those in custody. That caused some of those who were waiting to pick up friends and relatives in custody at the stadium and the police station to voice their frustrations to police.

"The processing back-up was due to the sheer volume," O'Leary said, explaining that it takes at least 7-8 minutes to process each prisoner, whether criminal or protective custody.

"It's like being in the deli line on July 3 with a big order -- it's going to take a while before you get your potato salad."

Less heat

O'Leary had hoped that the cooler weather this year and a smaller attendance, which he estimated at around 47,000 actually going through the gates, would result in a calmer event than last year's festival, when sun and 90-degree temperatures seemed to foster more than the usual amount of binge drinking.

In addition, the parking lots were not opened around the stadium until 2 p.m., as designated, and early arrivals were sent into a lot across the street at a cost of $60 and told to wait in their cars. Tailgating was prohibited until 2 p.m., and some alcohol spotted in the open before then was confiscated by stadium personnel and the state police officers who are in charge of the parking areas across Route 1 from the stadium.

Last year, the lots opened at 1 p.m., as that concert started an hour earlier. As a result, many arrests were made before fans were checked at the entrance to the stadium. And last year saw many more minors arrested in the parking lots.

This year, O'Leary said, there were more calls for police during the concert, headlined by country-western star Brad Paisley, inside the stadium.

"We received a lot of calls from stadium security personnel to have us do sobriety checks," the chief said of the many intoxicated fans. "And requests for officers to come to disturbances in the seats."

He added that police weren't looking for intoxicated persons ... "They find us."

The chief himself took one man into protective custody while leaving the upper (300) level after checking that the beer concessions had been closed for the night.

"A woman came up to me and said she saw someone staggering who looked like he was going to tip over," O'Leary related. "I checked him and he said he was just going back to his seat."

But when O'Leary looked at the man's ticket as he started to stagger off, he saw that his seat was actually way down in the lower (100) level.

"So I took him into protective custody and had to half-carry him to other officers," he said.


Of the 73 criminal arrests made by local police, seven included assault charges. Two were charged with assaulting police officers and one with assaulting a public safety official.

No serious injuries were reported.

After a chase involving state police K-9 units assisted by a state police helicopter, three Walpole teenagers were arrested for breaking into vehicles and and for possession of alcohol. The youths had fled into the woods behind the parking lot across Route 1 from the stadium, police said.

Staff reporter Frank Mortimer contributed to this story.

Football fans to fanatic?

Posted on Sat, Aug. 28, 2010 10:15 PM

Some football fans get a little too fanatical

DAVID EULITT/The Kansas City Sta
Are rowdy Chiefs fans just a part of the experience at Arrowhead Stadium, or do they sometimes cross the line? More News
Haley expects to be more Jekyll and less Hyde this year Chiefs are trying to build with character Weis as an assistant coach might be a great thing for the Chiefs Jones gives Chiefs more than just running ability How players motivate themselves Some football fans get a little too fanatical Chiefs’ 2010 schedule John Benson decided that if this was the Arrowhead Stadium experience, then it just isn’t worth it.

Benson, an Olathe resident, says that two years ago he took his young sons to a Chiefs exhibition game. It was bad enough that it rained, and then a handful of rowdy fans began displaying how much they’d had to drink. Benson says they were smoking and cursing, and he had to tell his sons, ages 7 and 11, that not all fans behave this way.

“It’s hard to explain,” says Benson, 48. “It was just terrible.”

He says he won’t be back — not unless he is assured that things have changed.

Arrowhead has been known for years as one of America’s liveliest venues to watch football. The sea of red, and all that passion with a fan base that lives and dies with every play. But at Arrowhead, the same as anywhere, the venue is only as enjoyable as the people who congregate inside it.

As sports fans get rowdier and ticket prices rise, those who pay their way in expect a total outlet. Chiefs Sundays are sacred, and one fan’s charms are another’s turnoffs.

“That Sunday is what you live for,” Benson says. “But you shouldn’t have to worry about who’s sitting around you and who might throw up on you. I can’t subject my kids to that.”

Thomas Joiner is a psychology professor at Florida State University, and he has studied sports fans’ behavior. He says that there has been a gradual “loosening of control” in many football stadiums, and as some fans get louder, drunker and more profane, there’s another group that just won’t subject themselves to something that’s supposed to be fun.

“There’s an element of cutting loose and blowing off steam,” Joiner says. “Those scenes are not for everybody.”

Joiner tells a story about a medieval tradition in a religious village. On occasion, the villagers would gather in a sacred location. The clerics, commoners and priests all drank themselves silly and acted like maniacs, because they believed it helped them deal with the rigors of life.

Joiner says that sounds a lot like today’s football stadiums, when people from various races, genders and socioeconomic backgrounds dress alike for one day a week and leave reality at home.

Joiner even says there’s a correlation between gathering at sporting events and a reduction in the suicide rates, because there’s relief in joining like-minded fans, even if the team is dreadful.

Jeff Mann lives in Kansas City, North, and says he can understand that feeling of belonging. He’s a 20-year Chiefs season-ticket holder, and he says his section has become something like a community. Like in a strong neighborhood, the regulars keep the riffraff at bay.

“There’s an element of fans there that are newer to the stadium,” he says, “who don’t know protocol, who don’t go to many games. You get that new fan out there who’s quicker to drop an F-bomb or get rowdy. Fans around them do a good job to say ‘knock it off.’ ”

Even so, Mann has seen Arrowhead when it shows its teeth. He’s used the stadium’s system of reporting misbehavior via an anonymous text-message line, which alerts authorities of bothersome fans and identifying their whereabouts. Mann says he witnessed a brawl in the parking lot last season, when one group of Chiefs fans fought with another after a loss to Oakland.

“Chief-on-Chief crime,” he says, and it’s amusing until he recounts the fight, in which one man suffered a broken bone in his face and another separated his shoulder.

Rich Lockhart is a spokesman for the Kansas City Police Department, and he says there’s a thick police presence dispatched each Sunday in the vicinity of Arrowhead. That’s in addition to off-duty police who work security inside.

“Whenever there’s more celebration,” Lockhart says, “there’s a better chance of misbehavior.”

Chiefs president Denny Thum says the team heard in recent years from concerned fans, and they were taken into account when Arrowhead was renovated. A family area was added to the northwest corner of the exterior, and the team will experiment this season with some lower-level seats that, Thum says, will be alcohol- and obscenity-free. He says there will be 25-40 of those seats in 2010, at no additional cost, and there’s potential for expansion.

That’s nice, but as usual when there’s discussion of change, not everyone is on board — not without some assurances that the old charms won’t be flushed away.

“I would hope the Chiefs never aspire to neuter, in effect, the fans,” Mann says. “I don’t think you want to take away that home-field advantage. There’s a way to go out there — raise hell, so to speak — and do it without (annoying) the family and spilling beer on the grandmother in front of you.”

Benson says he’s not yet ready to bring his children back to Arrowhead. Not only was his previous experience one he’d like to forget, but there are also the joys of high-definition TV to consider.

“I don’t want to be a prude about it,” he says, “and I don’t think I really am. We love the Chiefs. I’d just rather watch them from my living room.”

Posted on Sat, Aug. 28, 2010 10:15 PM

Read more:

New organization to fight terror in sports

Cricketers show support for anti-terrorism
1:31pm Friday 27th August 2010

Over 1,000 people have come together from across the world to unite in solidarity and take a stand against terrorism in sport.

In just over three weeks the Not In My Game campaign has attracted support from people across the globe, with support coming from as far away as Norway, Denmark and Pakistan.

Paul Farbrace, the former Kent batsman and assistant coach to the Sri Lankan team, said: “The overwhelming support we have seen for this campaign has been tremendous and a huge thank you must go out to everyone who has backed the pledge, but it is now vital that we continue the campaign’s momentum.

“I would urge everyone who wishes to take a stand against terrorism in sport backs the pledge at and signs up for a free cricket pack to host a cricket game in their area.”

In recent weeks supporters of the campaign have been organising community cricket games up and down the country to help demonstrate that cricket, and any other sport, should be able to be played whenever and wherever possible without fear of terrorist attacks. The campaign, which was launched to protect the future of international cricket games from terrorist attacks at the end of July, is running all summer and has united fans of crickets in communities across the UK.

Not In My Game has received unanimous backing from international cricket stars such as Mushtaq Ahmed and Owais Shah who have helped encourage sports fans from across the world to come together and take a stand against terrorism in the sport they love.

This summer Pakistan played its home series against Australia in England because of concerns for the safety of players following last year’s terrorist attacks on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore.

The atrocity killed seven and injured a further eight cricketers and coaching staff. The attacks led to a ban on all international cricket games in Pakistan this year and shocked cricket fans around the world.

The Not in My Game campaign is being led by Sport for Life! and Radical Middle Way, two grassroots charities who will bring together cricket fans from communities across the UK.

In addition to encouraging people to sign the pledge in defiance of terrorism, the groups will be organising hundreds of community cricket matches across towns and cities in the UK.

Visit or find the campaign on Facebook today, to back the Not in My Game pledge and register to host or take part in a local cricket match.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Off Road Race Deaths
Family, friends mourn 8 killed in off-road wreck
By GILLIAN FLACCUS, Associated Press Writers Gillian Flaccus, Associated Press Writers

LUCERNE VALLEY, Calif. – Zachary Freeman loved to fish, dirt bike and camp — but most of all, he loved to watch off-road truck racing in the vast Mojave Desert northeast of Los Angeles.

That love would cost the 24-year-old pipe welder and seven other off-road enthusiasts their lives when a truck competing in the annual California 200 careened off the sand track Saturday and into the crowd, instantly killing Freeman and his best friend.

On Sunday, his girlfriend and his stepfather mourned at a simple cross-and-stone memorial set in the thick sand and waited in the blistering heat for a locksmith to arrive to change the ignition lock in Freeman's truck so they could take it home. His keys had been lost in the chaos; the coroner found only a lighter in his pocket.

"I'm just in shock. It's not real yet, it hasn't soaked in," said Randall Peterson, his grieving stepfather.

Freeman's girlfriend, Nicky Carmikle, sobbed as she knelt down and placed her boyfriend's camouflage baseball hat in the center of the stone circle surrounding the wooden cross.

Carmikle recalled how she had stepped away from the race for a few minutes to use the bathroom and returned to find the truck upside down, bodies everywhere and people screaming in panic.

"His shoes are still over there. I can't even look," she said, gesturing to a bag full of abandoned clothing, shoes and blankets, some stained with blood. "It just isn't fair, it isn't right."

Those who witnessed the accident said the crowd pressed close to the track and could almost touch the trucks as they hurtled and bounced over the desert sand.

Shortly after the race began, one driver took a jump at high speed, hit his brakes on landing and rolled his truck sideways into spectators, sending bodies flying on a section of track that had no guardrails or anything else to keep the crowd back. Eight people were killed and 12 were injured.

"You could touch it if you wanted to. It's part of the excitement," Carmikle said. "There's always that risk factor, but you just don't expect that it will happen to you."

Cheyenne Frantzich, 15, was watching the race with her sister, who was killed in the crash. "I just thought it would be fun to be close. And it was a big mistake," Frantzich told CBS' "Early Show" on Monday.

California Highway Patrol Officer Joaquin Zubieta said Brett M. Sloppy, 28, of San Marcos, was behind the wheel of the truck involved in the crash. Zubieta said alcohol was not a factor in the crash and there were no plans to arrest Sloppy, who the CHP estimates was going 45 to 50 mph at the time of the crash.

Zubieta said state vehicle codes don't apply because the race was a sanctioned event held with the approval of the federal Bureau of Land Management, which owns the land used for the race.

The BLM issued a statement saying safety was the responsibility of the race organizer, South El Monte-based Mojave Desert Racing. MDR's permit required racers to travel 15 mph or less when they were within 50 feet of fans, and allowed no more than 300 spectators for the event, the agency said.

BLM spokesman David Briery said the agency would cooperate with the CHP's investigation.

"We followed all our rules," he said by phone. "We don't think we did anything wrong."

Phone and e-mail messages left for MDR were not immediately returned.

Tens of thousands of people were spread out along the 50-mile track, but the site of the crash, a stretch known as the "rockpile," is one of the most popular areas to gather because the trucks become airborne, witnesses said.

Some said they got within 4 feet of the unmarked track, watching trucks fly over a series of jumps. Several jagged rocks jut from the rutted dirt track at the bottom of the hill.

The driver "hit the rock and just lost control and tumbled," said Matt March, 24, of Wildomar, who was standing next to the jump. "Bodies went everywhere."

Derek Cox, a friend of victim Andrew Therrien, told KABC-TV in Los Angeles that Therrien, 22, pushed children out of the way as the truck barreled toward them. He was killed in the accident.

"I owe my son's life, as well as many others. They were inches away from him and he saved their lives," Cox said of the Riverside resident. "He's a hero in my book."

March said he and other fans lifted the truck, which came to rest with its oversized wheels pointing toward the sky, and found four people lying unconscious underneath.

It took rescue vehicles and helicopters more than half an hour to reach the remote location, accessible only by a rutted dirt road. Spectators said off-duty police and firefighters in the crowd joined paramedics hired by the race organizer to help the injured and place blankets over the dead.

Six people died at the scene and two others died after being taken to a hospital, authorities said. Most of the 12 injured people were airlifted to hospitals.

Paramedics brought six people — five adults and a child — to Loma Linda University Medical Center, spokesman Herbert Atienza said Sunday. He had no information on their condition.

Officials said Sloppy, the driver, wasn't hurt. It was not clear why he lost control of the truck, a white modified Ford Ranger with "Misery Motorsports" painted on the doors.

A Facebook page that appeared to belong to Sloppy and included a picture of his truck was updated Sunday with a note: "Soo incredibly lost and devistated my thoughts and prayers go out to all the familys and friends involved.. Thank you too all my friends for sticking with me even thru these tragic times I love you all."

Nearly 40 friends responded with messages of support by Sunday afternoon.

The race is part of a series held in the Mojave Desert's Soggy Dry Lake Bed, about an hour's drive from the nearest city, Lucerne Valley.

The course winds through empty desert dotted only with rocky outcroppings and desert shrubs. Several families were still camping Sunday on a dried-up lake bed below the crash site. Buggies and dirtbikes zoomed back and forth, kicking up dust that could be seen for miles.

There were no barriers at the site of the crash. Fans said these races rarely have any kind of safety guards.

"That's desert racing for you," said fan John Payne, of Anaheim. "You're at your own risk out here. You are in the middle off the desert. People were way too close and they should have known. You can't really hold anyone at fault. It's just a horrible, horrible accident."

Briery said he didn't know if the BLM would conduct an internal investigation, and he added it was too early to say if the agency would change its permit rules to ensure stricter enforcement of safety requirements.

The BLM is required by Congress to make public lands accessible to reasonable requests, and the area used Saturday is one of the few available to off-road enthusiasts, he said.

The CHP does not normally investigate crashes at organized events, but took the lead on this probe because of its scope.

Aside from Freeman and Therrien, those killed were Brian Wolfin, 27, Anthony Sanchez, 23, and Aaron Farkas, 25, all of Escondido; Danica Frantzich, 20, of Las Vegas; and Dustin Malson, 24, of Ventura. The name of the eighth victim, a 34-year-old man from Spring Valley, had not been released by Sunday night.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Tila Tequila and a rough crowd

CARTERVILLE, Ill. – A sheriff says reality TV actress Tila Tequila complained that audience members pelted her with stones and feces during an outdoor music festival in southern Illinois.

Hardin County Sheriff Tom Seiner told a Carterville TV station it happened early Saturday at the Gathering of the Juggalos. That's a weekend festival based around the band Insane Clown Posse and other groups from Psychopathic Records.

Seiner told WSIL-TV that Tequila, whose real name is Tila Nguyen, complained that she was injured when audience members threw rocks at her. Seiner said Nguyen also complained that feces were thrown.

The sheriff also said one man stabbed another, though not fatally.

Sheriff's Department dispatcher Jimmy Barnard said early Sunday that he had no other details.