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Ameyaw Says

Fan Mail: Violence and police brutality at the Big Eruption concert



akon in ghana (1)It’s already being described as the biggest concert to ever hit the Accra Sports Stadium from the information that keeps trickling in.  While many have described the Guinness Big Eruption Concert as a success, so far the only big issue that concert goers have raised is around crowd control and police brutality. Check out an email I received from on such patron of the concert.

Hi Ameyaw,
I am writing to you because I have been following your blog for some time and it seems that you are not afraid to write critical articles.
Today I had to witness some very disturbing incidents at the Accra Sports Stadium during the Big Eruption concert that I believe should not go unnoticed and rather be made public.
I arrived with another female friend punctual at 7.30pm at the stadium where we got good places (standing) nearly in front of the stage inside of the VIP area. However, even then I already noticed several people, especially groups of young men, in the same area, wearing only standard bracelets (why this is important I will explain later).
Apart from the fact that I would usually criticize the concert itself (late start, terrible sound, etc), the lack of security was the real problem!!!
Once the concert started, things got a bit chaotic in front of the stage as expected. However, several groups of the above mentioned younger men without VIP ticket were very rowdy seemed to be starting fights every couple of minutes with nobody there to interfere. Why they were let in into this area at such an early time I cannot understand. When Akon decided it would be “necessary” for him to touch the crowd and opened a gate in the security fence, all hell broke lose. Everybody pushed from the back, trying to get towards the stage, people were getting squeezed and I saw girls that got hurt or passed out who were dragged away by friends. How can any celebrity endanger his fans in such a way?! It was simply irresponsible.
After this we got out of the crowd, getting some water and sitting down. Then several things happened at once which made us trying to leave the place as I assessed the situation as being too dangerous:
  • Crowds were rushing the gates leading into the VIP area
  • Some gates got breached and security/police was using tasers against the crowds, trying to push them back in. I saw taser going off two times and heard them several times from the distance
  • One friend of mine reported that she could not even enter the VIP area because of the crowd and the security fighting against them with tasers. People, women, lying on the ground crying
  • Hence all doors got sealed, but unfortunately it was most often one security man against the whole crowd pushing from outside
  • People climbing over the fences, getting into close fights with security, security using beating sticks against people
  • Another woman reported she was simply lining up to enter the VIP area when the crowd got out of control and a police officer took off his belt!!! starting randomly beating people, her and her innocent friend included
  • Attendees who had already paid grew increasingly frustrated as they were denied entry
  • All the while the mood of the guys inside the area was dangerous, me and my friend were repeatedly grabbed (all body parts), countless hands were searching for valuable items, men getting increasingly aggressive
Once we finally made it out of the VIP area we tried to leave the arena, only to find out that the whole!!! arena got locked up due to a huge crowd standing outside, trying to enter forcefully. Whenever a gate was opened, the crowd was too strong, people got hurt and again I saw several taser, beating sticks and much brutality.
All we were able to do was to wait while the crowd seemed to be more and more dodgy (note that all the people who entered by force did not go through security check and hence could be carrying all kind of things). While we were waiting, talking to other people who also wanted to leave, I heard countless stories of violence, thievery, assaults on women and much more while the ambulance was driving back and forth, back and forth… Funny thing is for most people inside the party went on unchanged.
I am simply shocked by
  • the brutality of the police/security, especially against innocents
  • the lack of security and foresight that made these actions necessary for them to take
  • the incompetence of the police/security, there seemed to be no “master plan”, instead they were all overburdened
  • the general aggressiveness and violence coming from the crowd
  • the fact that people get locked up and are not able to leave (even if it is for their own good)
But even more I am disturbed by how readily people seemed to accept all this. They complain, move on and accept. Talking to my friends about it, they said they are used to these things happening at the stadium during concerts, we should be happy that nobody (to our knowledge) got killed.
Me though, I hope these incidents will not be forgotten. Tomorrow, by all likeliness, everybody will report about how great the concert was, the performances, the special effects, how energetic the crowd. But in my opinion it is past time that somebody openly talks about this security disaster. People should not having to expect getting hurt while just attending a concert.
The organizers have to ensure that the security is ready and good enough for a concert of this size and popularity. If not, then these concerts should not take place. That would be sad, but better than people getting hurt.
I sincerely hope you will write about this, in which way is of course your decision, but please make sure you will leave my name out of it and make it anonymous!!!
Thank you very much!
 akon in ghana (2)

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