SXSW events turn chaotic, APD says change coming next year



Posted on March 21, 2011 at 6:18 PM

South by Southwest (SXSW) ended with an angry mob ripping down a fence to a venue and attacking security guards. The Austin Police Department chief says change is coming next year.

A quick search on YouTube turns up dozens of violent SXSW outbursts.

On Saturday night, at the Death from Above 1979 concert at Beauty Bar, people stuck outside after the club reached capacity tore down the back fence.

“Then from there everyone gets angry and everything snowballed,” concert-goer Joe Chavez said.

Chavez came down from El Paso to go to SXSW. He was caught in the middle of the angry mob.  He says some threw things at the security guards.

"I saw chairs, beer cans,” he said.

You can see the items fly on the YouTube video even as the APD mounted patrol showed up.

Things also got pretty crazy at Auditorium Shores Thursday night for The Strokes' free concert. It is also documented on YouTube.

Angelica Brem was there.

"There were people climbing over the gates, pushing gates over, sneaking in between the chain link fences, climbing over the porter potties,” she said. "I was concerned that if there was a riot, there was no way to get out."

In a news conference Monday afternoon, Chief Art Acevedo said it was a lesson learned.

Off-duty uniformed officers worked The Strokes concert, as well as many other events downtown as part of an off-duty contract.

"We are going to require them from this day forward to put together a security site plan. That plan will have to be approved by this department,” he said.

According to the chief, 40 percent more people came to SXSW than expected.

To make things even more complicated, he says promoters announced free concerts on Twitter without informing police ahead of time.

“We want to make sure that we have the appropriate resources there,” he said.

Chief Acevedo also wants promoters to announce a capacity to a venue, meaning if a club can safely hold 100 people, no more will be allowed in.