Canada: 'It was a cage': Security guard raises concerns after music festival ends in panic - PressFrom - Canada
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Canada'It was a cage': Security guard raises concerns after music festival ends in panic

15:00  16 july  2019
15:00  16 july  2019 Source:   cbc.ca

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A weekend summer music festival that ended with panicked crowds running for safety and a man lying in a pool of his own blood is prompting questions about whether the security measures in place were adequate, with a member of the event's own security team speaking out.

The security guard is coming forward with allegations of poor planning because of what she says is confusion online over just what happened at the Sandz Toronto Caribbean Music Festival held Sunday evening at the Woodbine Centre in Etobicoke.

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CBC News is not identifying the guard over concerns about possible personal and professional repercussions.

"I thought it was important to lend an eye that was actually there," she told CBC News Monday.

She said her worries began as soon as she arrived at the venue. "It was impossible for security to effectively do their jobs," she added.

"Immediately, we were like, 'Oh, this is going to be hell.'"

'Completely rammed'

'It was a cage': Security guard raises concerns after music festival ends in panic© Getty A file photo of a security guard.

Police were initially called to the event for reports of gunfire, Toronto police spokesperson David Hopkinson said.

Paid officers on duty at the event heard what they believed to be sounds of shots fired while breaking up a fight, in which a man was hit in the head with what was reportedly a bottle, he said. But upon inspecting the area, he said, there was no evidence of actual gunfire.

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"We did find one bullet, not a spent shell casing..." Hopkinson said.

Whether shots were fired or not, the bullet is just one reason the guard who spoke with CBC News is concerned. Among her other concerns: the set-up of the venue, the fact that multiple security firms were hired and there was a lack of communication.

Organizers of the Sandz festival did not return requests to speak with CBC News to address the guard's concerns.

The event was scheduled to begin at 2 p.m., but by 5 p.m. the guard says "it was completely rammed."

"By that point, I realized we're probably going to have some problems."

'Where are the emergency exits?'

"When we first pulled up, we said, 'There's no way this is it,'" she said.

"It was a cage," she said of the set-up, describing how flat-bed trucks were arranged in a square to contain party-goers.

"My first question is: where are the emergency exits and my second question is: who's going to be manning the exits?"

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On top of that, she says, the event was beyond capacity. Wristbands had run out and organizers were resorting to hand-made ones to accommodate everyone.

"You cannot cage people in like that because that's what triggered the panic and that's what sparked a lot of the other injuries like people getting trampled, stampeded over," she said.

When fighting broke out near the stage, she says, the MC began calling for security to come to the front of the venue. The problem: there was no way of knowing which security team was responding.

Police investigating

"There was no clue what was going on or who was being sent where," she said. Amid that chaos, she says, was the sound of gunfire that sent people fleeing.

Hopkinson would not comment on whether the security measures in place at the event were sufficient, saying the police investigation will focus on the fight that broke out and the bullet found at the scene.

The guard, a police foundations graduate herself, says she's glad police are investigating, but wonders if the characterization of "minor injuries" is sufficient to those who attended, and if the stigma around the neighbourhood where the event was held plays a role in how it's been reported on by the media.

"This is going to have psychological effects on people for God knows how long," she said.

And while she was on duty in professional capacity that day, she knows all too well the trauma that gun violence can wreak on a community, having seen a friend killed in front of her own eyes at a dance competition in the early 2000s.

"I know how dangerous these events can be ... I moved out of the city because of things like this."

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