Culture

Remember The Astroworld Tragedy? Here’s What’s Been Happening Since Then

By Paula Gallagher··  4 min read
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The FBI is getting involved in the Astroworld tragedy, investigating the events that led to 10 deaths and about 300 hundred injuries.

On Saturday, the Houston Police Department announced a public-facing FBI website, where concertgoers, employees, and other eyewitnesses can upload any photos or videos taken at the Astroworld concert venue on November 5, 2021 to be included as evidence.

The announcement was posted to Twitter: “Houston Police Detectives have already viewed countless hours of video evidence as part of our ongoing investigation in the Astroworld event.

To ensure that we have captured all possible evidence for a complete investigation, we have partnered with the Federal Bureau of Investigation for additional technical assistance. The FBI has created a website where the public can upload any photos or video taken at the concert venue. Specifically, we are seeking any photos or videos of the main venue area from 8pm to 11pm. The website to upload your photos or video is fbi.gov/astroworld.

HPD continues to lead the investigation and we appreciate the assistance from our federal partners at the FBI.”

The FBI website is only the latest development in the ongoing investigation into what happened at Travis Scott’s concert in NGR Park in Houston. On December 22, 2021, the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Reform announced its own investigation into Live Nation’s role in the crowd surge. Live Nation was the concert promoter in charge of "planning, staffing, putting up money, securing permits, finding vendors, communicating with local agencies" for Astroworld.

The committee sent a letter to Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino: “Recent reports raise serious concerns about whether your company took adequate steps to ensure the safety of the 50,000 concertgoers who attended Astroworld Festival. For instance, reports indicate that security and medical staff were inexperienced or ill-equipped to deal with mass injuries. Some attendees stated that the placement of barricades made it difficult to escape. Experts have stated that Astroworld Festival organizers failed to heed warning signs.”

The letter continued, “The tragedy at Astroworld Festival follows a long line of other tragic events and safety violations involving Live Nation. For example, Live Nation has been fined or sued numerous times over safety issues at previous events, including other incidents involving surging fans or stampedes…From 2016 to 2019, Live Nation and its subsidiary Live Nation Worldwide were cited ten times for safety violations and incurred fines.”

The committee requested that detailed accounts of Live Nation’s preparations and security plans for the concert, as well as how Live Nation responded in real-time to the reports of the crowd surge and the decisions of law enforcement, be submitted in January.

The letter further includes a concern over “reports about Live Nation’s conduct following Astroworld Festival. Live Nation and its subsidiary reportedly have withheld pay until part-time employees who worked the festival have signed a revised employment contract, correcting the original version signed prior to the festival that was dated 2018. The revision makes it clear that the contract, which includes a broad provision releasing Live Nation from liability, applies to the 2021 festival.”

Part-time employees hired for the festival signed a version of the employment contract releasing Live Nation and its subsidiary Scoremore from any liability, but it was dated 2018.

A revised contract was emailed to the staffers on November 15 with the updated date, so the liability release would clearly apply. It also includes “stringent” liability language. 

“(Employee) assumes full responsibility for any injuries or damages that may occur to the (employee) in, on or about the festival and its premises and fully and forever releases and discharges the released parties from any and all claims, demands, damages, rights of action or causes of action resulting from or arising out of the (employee’s) attending and or providing services at the festival,” it states.

Employees who sign the contract agree they’re “not covered nor eligible for any employee benefits or insurance coverage provided by the released parties including but not limited to medical, property and liability insurance and workers compensation benefits.” They also agree to “mandatory binding arbitration of all disputes.”

One part-time employee told Rolling Stone why he refused to sign the updated contract: “They essentially said, ‘You need to sign this new form in order to get paid.’ It was clear they wanted legal coverage. I definitely thought they were thinking of business first. ‘How can we cover ourselves?’ I know they weren’t thinking about us and how we were feeling, in my opinion. Nobody reached out to me individually to inquire how I was. It was just the paperwork.”

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