In the wake of terror-driven incidents, drug-related casualties, and acts of violence, many people have lost some of their former confidence in the level of personal safety one can expect at concerts, clubs, and large-scale music events. As much as we would like to deny it, recent events have had a very real and visible impact on how we respond to potential threats at concerts in particular.
Recently, and as a result of widespread rioting in St. Louis, U2 and Ed Sheeran have decided to cancel planned concerts previously scheduled to take place on September 16th and 17th respectively. The decision is said to have been made in the best interests of the fans, specifically regarding their personal safety. The cancellations come following the September 15th acquittal of Jason Stockley, a white former police officer accused of fatally shooting a 24-year-old black victim during a 2011 car chase. Lamar Smith, the deceased, was shot five times during the chase and subsequent crash. Stockley was charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action and found not guilty last week.
Riots driven by distrust and disillusionment with law enforcement and the legal system broke out soon after the judgement came down. As a result, law enforcement presence in St. Louis is stretched thin in efforts to suppress violence and rioters, which would reportedly detract significantly from the St. Louis Police Department’s ability to provide adequate security for an event of this size.
The concert space reserved for the events has a maximum capacity of 70,000, a potential crowd which promoters and city officials felt could not be properly controlled with so many officers diverted to incidents unfolding elsewhere. U2 and Live Nation explained the cancelation in a statement, saying, “In light of this information, we cannot in good conscience risk our fans’ safety by proceeding with tonight’s concert…as much as we regret having to cancel, we feel it is the only acceptable course of action in the current environment” (via Live Nation).
Representation from Sheeran has also responded, saying that the event was canceled in “everyone’s best interest” (via Messina Touring Group).
Fans who had purchased tickets for the events in question will reportedly be issued full refunds, however there is currently no word on whether either U2 or Sheeran have plans to reschedule a follow-up event in the St. Louis area once the rioting has subsided.