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City attorney considers filing charges in near riot in Hollywood

Police arrest three after violence breaks out Wednesday during a deejay's performance in front of Grauman's Chinese Theatre before a movie premiere. The city attorney's office may charge event organizers.

July 29, 2011|By Jessica Gelt, Andrew Blankstein and Richard Winton, Los Angeles Times
  • Vince Hudson, 31, of Chicago yells at LAPD officers after being pushed along Hollywood Boulevard after the breakup of a crowd that had gathered for a free concert by DJ Kaskade on Wednesday.
Vince Hudson, 31, of Chicago yells at LAPD officers after being pushed along… (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles…)

When a deejay sent a Twitter message Wednesday telling people to come to a concert in Hollywood celebrating the release of a movie about raves, he wrote: "Let's see if the magic of social networking will work today."

Well, it did — in ways he never imagined.

His tweet brought hundreds to Hollywood Boulevard, creating a near riot that closed off a busy section of the thoroughfare in front of Grauman's Chinese Theatre for hours. The Los Angeles Police Department arrested three people on suspicion of felony vandalism in connection with damage to three police cruisers.

Officials said they were still considering criminal or civil actions against those who organized the event.

"Our personnel are working in conjunction with LAPD to investigate this incident. Once we receive the files and review everything we will make a determination about whether there was any criminal behavior," said John Franklin, a spokesman for the city attorney's office.

The deejay, known as Kaskade, did not return calls seeking comment. But he released a statement Thursday saying he didn't mean to incite trouble.

"I'm incredibly disappointed that last night ended the way it did," the statement read. "It's unfortunate that a few disrespectful people turned what was supposed to be a celebration of music into a regrettable event."

Officials expected 500 invited guests to attend a showing of the "Electric Daisy Carnival Experience," a documentary about one of the nation's largest electronic music festivals. But after Kaskade, whose real name is Ryan Raddon, sent his tweet, hundreds showed up.

Some people who work with Kaskade said he may have underestimated his popularity on Twitter.

"What he tried to pull off at the Chinese Theatre was a marvelous stunt that went terribly wrong," said Michael Duddie, general manager of Supperclub Los Angeles, which invited the deejay to perform at an after-party but did not organize his film entrance. "I don't think he knows the gravity of his popularity."

Kaskade had tricked out a flatbed truck with his equipment — and had planned to roll up, play two songs and head into the premiere, Los Angeles Fire Department officials said. The event was permitted by the Fire Department, which planned a 30-minute lane closure on Hollywood Boulevard "with amplified music on the back of a flat bed truck," according to the permit.

About 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, Kaskade alerted his 92,000 Twitter followers that he was heading to Grauman's Chinese Theatre for a block party: "ME+BIG SPEAKERS+MUSIC=BLOCK PARTY!!!"

But as people began showing up, Duddie said it became clear that "a crisis was headed our way."

"I walked out and saw a flatbed truck with an over-the-top sound system just blasting, and it became evident after a minute that this would create quite a scene — just the magnetic effect of that sound system and Kaskade rolling down Hollywood Boulevard," Duddie said. "In two minutes there were 100 people, in three minutes there were 1,000 people, and by the time he got to the corner of Hollywood and Highland there were 3,000 people around me. Cars couldn't go anywhere."

Instead of continuing down Hollywood Boulevard, they turned onto Highland Avenue, Duddie said.

"Another 1,000 kids ran down the street at top speed — right down the middle of the street with traffic coming at them. It grew out of control," Duddie said.

The chaos prompted police to respond in riot gear. And Kaskade began urging people to leave.

"EVERYONE NEEDS TO GO HOME NOW! I DON'T WANT THIS TO REFLECT BADLY ON…WHAT WE ARE," he tweeted.

"When you have that many people it can become a powder keg, and this one exploded," Duddie said. "It was really unfortunate, but thank God nobody got hurt. It's hard to place blame on anyone."

After the crowds died down, Kaskade was able to appear at a celebrity-studded after-party at Supperclub, which Duddie said went off without a hitch. Security was tripled, and extra precautions were taken.

Pasquale Rotella, chief executive of rave producer Insomniac Inc., issued a statement saying the organization was not to blame for the problems.

"I want to make clear that while this film showcased an Insomniac event, Insomniac had nothing to do with the supposed 'block party,' which was not a part of the premiere," he said. "The crowd issues that arose were a result of individuals responding to social media information which mistakenly led them to believe they could see artists perform."

Officials said they are also trying to tally the costs of responding to the incident as well as any destruction to property.

It is possible the city could ask the organizers to cover those costs.

jessica.gelt@latimes.com

andrew.blankstein@latimes.com

richard.winton@latimes.com

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