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PNE stands behind its ‘very good security plan’ for Vancouver concert that ended in riot

Click to play video: 'Vancouver Police launch dedicated Breakout Festival riot investigation team'
Vancouver Police launch dedicated Breakout Festival riot investigation team
After a cancelled concert sparked a riot at the PNE Amphitheatre, Vancouver Police are launching a dedicated investigation team. As Grace Ke reports, officers are asking anyone with video footage of the destruction to hold on to it – Sep 20, 2022

Less than 48 hours after a scheduled concert ended in a riot, the PNE in Vancouver is standing behind its security plan for the event.

American rapper Lil Baby was set to perform at the BREAKOUT Festival on Sunday night, but cancelled at the last minute due to health concerns.

While some concert-goers left peacefully, about a thousand rioted instead. Videos posted to social media capture the ensuing destruction of property and looting, which resulted in hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage.

Click to play video: 'Riot erupts at PNE after music festival headliner Lil Baby cancels show'
Riot erupts at PNE after music festival headliner Lil Baby cancels show

Read more: Riot breaks out at PNE Amphitheatre Sunday after music festival headliner cancels

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According to PNE spokesperson Laura Ballance, there was a “full security contingent” at the venue on Sunday, and the evening’s customized security plan was developed in conjunction with Vancouver police, which also had several officers in attendance.

“Having a thousand people decide to channel their disappointment in this way is incredibly shocking to us in the event business … but I don’t think this happened because we didn’t have a good plan or the right team,” Ballance said Tuesday.

As the evening descended into chaos, police officers at the PNE called for backup. Dozens of officers were dispatched, in addition to some Metro Vancouver Transit police.

Seven people were arrested for breaching the peace and no additional arrests have been made to date.

Vancouver police, meanwhile, are assembling an investigative team for the riot and will soon release information on how the public can submit the countless cellphone videos of the event into evidence.

“This is similar to the Stanley Cup riots in 2011 and the Guns and Roses riot of 2002,” Const. Tania Visintin told Global News.

“We had people fighting each other, overturning tables, overturning kiosk carts, so it was a very wild scene, a lot of property destruction.”

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Click to play video: 'Rioters cause hundreds of thousands in damages after cancelled PNE concert'
Rioters cause hundreds of thousands in damages after cancelled PNE concert

According to Ballance, the PNE develops a custom security plan for each event it hosts that considers the size and demographic of the crowd, among other factors.

It has hosted countless performances of a similar size and nature without incident in the past, and the spokesperson said event staff could not have predicted that this one would become violent. Several years ago, she added, a headliner cancelled a performance and no one rioted at that time.

“To try and guess that a thousand people will react so badly when there is so much past experience that is not indicative that we would need to staff to that level — I don’t think it’s fair, and quite honestly, would make it cost prohibitive to bring events to our city,” said Ballance, asked whether the PNE should have had more security on hand.

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Read more: Attendance at PNE 2022 about 75 per cent of pre-pandemic levels: organizer

For the moment, the PNE remains focused on supporting staff who were at the riot with counselling and trauma services, Ballance said.

It will also review what transpired on Sunday to determine if improvements can be made and remains in contact with the concert promoter to ensure repairs are made swiftly both on PNE property and elsewhere if needed.

“We will debrief — is there anything we can learn? Is there anything we can adjust? We have four events coming up,” said Ballance.

“But you can’t look at a crowd of people and say that they’re going to riot tonight.”

Click to play video: 'Vancouver police called in after riot breaks out at PNE Sunday'
Vancouver police called in after riot breaks out at PNE Sunday

On social media, Lil Baby had apologized to Vancouver, the BREAKOUT festival and concert-goers for the cancellation, stating that his body “completely shut down.”

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“I have been going so hard these past few months without any breaks that it finally caught up with me … I owe you guys big time and will for sure make it up soon,” he wrote on Instagram on Monday.

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