Hollywood revellers on rampage at 'block party' linked to film première

 

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The Independent US

Police in Los Angeles are investigating the chain of events which led to what they called a "near riot" at the Hollywood premiere of a film celebrating the supposedly bonhomous atmosphere at a well-known dance music festival.

Officers in riot gear fired non-lethal rounds in an effort to disperse a large crowd of mostly young revellers who had gathered outside Grauman's Chinese Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard for Wednesday's premiere of a documentary about an annual event called the Electric Daisy Carnival.

In the ensuing melee, dozens of arrests were reported, several roads had to be closed, and at least two people charged with vandalism. Local news outlets broadcast footage of police cars being set on fire, bottles being thrown, and shop windows smashed.

An incident captured on mobile telephone and uploaded to YouTube showed young people running from police officers who had fired a shot into the air. Onlookers reported that "bean bag" rounds, an alternative to rubber bullets, were used to gain control of the streets.

Trouble appears to have started after a popular DJ whose stage name is Kaskade told his 80,000 Twitter followers that he would be staging a free music event outside the premiere of Electric Daisy Carnival Experience, a film about one of the most popular dance music festivals in the US. "ME + BIG SPEAKERS + MUSIC = BLOCK PARTY!!!" it read.

Thousands of young fans duly attended, preventing ticket holders from gaining access to the red carpet.

In a second message which perhaps served to inflame the situation, the DJ declared: "News choppers overhead. The man trying to shut us down. Hang on I am coming!!!"

Shortly afterwards, at around 7.30pm, riot police were deployed. Kaskade duly told fans to leave the area, but by then it was too late.

The incident will only add to the air of controversy about the Electric Daisy Carnival, an event which has been held each June since 1997 and was this year attended by 215,000 people, making it the biggest dance music festival outside Europe.

Last year, a 15-year-old girl died after apparently taking ecstasy at the event, sparking criticism of security procedures and forcing its promoters, Insomniac Inc, to leave Los Angeles and hold this year's Carnival on the outskirts of Las Vegas.

The promoters are also at the centre of an investigation into alleged corruption at the Los Angeles Coliseum, the stadium where it was held for much of the past decade. Public officials in charge of the venue are alleged to have illegally profited from allowing the event to be held there, some of them to the tune of millions of dollars.

Yesterday morning, Pasquale Rotella, chief executive of Insomniac, issued a statement saying the organisation was not to blame for any public unrest and disassociating itself from the "block party" and its publicity.

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