The evening was supposed to be an action-packed one for fans of Asake, a Nigerian Afrobeats singer-songwriter and star of 2022. However, it ended in horror, as fanfare outside the Brixton O2 Academy last week left two people dead, a third was left in critical condition and many others who need hospital care.
First of all, hundreds of people who showed up without tickets were blamed for the accident. When the party stopped after only two songs, a man came onto the stage announce: “We put the show on hold because they broke in the door. You’ve got 3,000 people who broke down the door outside.”
But some of those who have been there say it’s more complicated than that. Witness accounts raise serious questions about security at the venue and the police response.
According to some who were there, several people managed to get into the venue without tickets before the show started.
Witnesses said this meant the venue filled up early, with hundreds of fans left with tickets in the freezing temperatures outside.
Anna, not her real name, said she was surprised by the insecurity when she entered the building with a ticket around 8:30 p.m. “It was the most poorly organized thing I’ve ever seen. There was no security there [ask people to] “Form an organized queue,” she said.
She was stunned by the number of people already inside. “I remember saying to my friend, ‘It’s already getting a little cramped in here and there’s no way anyone from the outside can get in.'” “
Meanwhile, frustration was building among the overseas ticket-holders. Isuma Daniel, 41, said she was waiting outside with her ticket at around 8:30 p.m. when “the crowd suddenly rushed in.”
Police were first called at 9.04pm after what the Metropolitan Police said were “reports of a large crowd gathering outside the venue”.
Danielle said she started to feel “suffocated” and “choked” in a back alley around 9.15pm. She said she was worried about being pushed down by the crowd and being hit by metal barriers.
She added, “The security guards were gone at this point. There were girls begging the guys to try and pick them up. It was chaotic, and it went on like this until about 9:30pm.”
Video from this time showed a packed crowd in an alley next to the venue.
The Met said officers were called again at 9.35pm to reports that people were “trying to force entry into the venue”. A video emerged from the lobby of people making their way through the entrance.
Other footage shows a person being kicked on a tile floor inside.
Daniel said: “The police arrived but they were just standing there. I couldn’t understand why no one told us we wouldn’t go in. They put my life in danger. No one would tempt me.”
In the hall were some Asake is impatient to appear on stage before 9:30 p.m, with some tweets expressing frustration. It is not clear when the concert was cancelled, although reports began appearing on Twitter that the event would close around 10pm.
Anna noted that the stampede occurred when those leaving the hall met the entrants. “People were struggling to leave because of the huge stampede outside,” she said.
He was in the lobby where two people were mortally wounded. They were Gabby Hutchinson, a 23-year-old security guard, and Rebecca Icomelo, 33, a mother of two from Newham, east London. A 21-year-old woman, who remains in critical condition, was also injured in the hallway.
Anna said: “There wasn’t enough security there. I just think the wrong message was sent at the beginning that the people outside were troublemakers. The majority of people there had tickets.”
A video later emerged showing police officers with sticks throwing a woman down the entrance stairs leading to the venue.
This incident is being investigated by the Directorate of Professional Standards in Meteorology. Security for the entire event has been referred to the Independent Office for Police Conduct, as is usual for fatal events attended by police.
Guardian contributor Jason Okunday was among those stuck outside with a ticket unaware that the show had been cancelled.
At 10.14pm, he tweeted: “There was absolutely no contact from the Brixton O2. I was supposed to come with a press card/company ticket and couldn’t get anywhere. It’s not even clear if the show went ahead. So much to answer for!”
in a Another tweetHe said, “People who broke in early came and got in quietly before things got crazy, and the problem started once the place reached capacity and people couldn’t get in anymore.”
Okundaye said those who were locked out of the venue were unjustly blamed. “I’m sure if they were oversold or fake tickets were inadvertently sold, there’s a blame to be shared everywhere,” he tweeted.
This is not the first time that concerns have been raised about security holes in the venue.
Just a week ago, after a unique performance again, users of the discussion site Discord said that too many people had been let in. One user said the number of people recognized “puts everyone at risk”.
Another said: “There are massive security holes at the O2 Brixton Show. If you want to get in you can… There is a team of speculators working with the security team at the entrance to the venue.”
Millie Jenkins said she complained to the venue, the council and the Executive Director of Health and Safety, when her daughter saw security staff take money at the door for her entry into the standing area at the Slowtai concert in March. She said it was so crowded that at least two people passed out and the show was interrupted.
O2 Academy Brixton has been contacted for comment on the allegations of security holes. “We remain devastated by this tragic situation and fully support the ongoing investigation,” she said in a statement.
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