Near-riot in Hollywood: Tourists caught up in 'Electric Daisy' chaos
What started as a normal movie premiere for "Electric Daisy Carnival Experience" at Grauman's Chinese Theatre ended with riot police on Hollywood Boulevard.
From his bird's-eye view Trailer Park office across the street, social media strategist Nick Walsh has seen plenty of them.
But Wednesday was different: The crowd just kept coming.
“I kept on looking out and the crowd kept on getting bigger.... And they just started pouring into the street, stopping traffic,” Walsh said.
He began snapping photos just as hundreds of people gathered in front of the theater for an impromptu concert by electronic musician Kaskade, who sent out a tweet earlier in the day, promising that at 6 p.m. he would provide “ME+BIG SPEAKERS+MUSIC=BLOCK PARTY!!!”
Kaskade was among the performers featured in the "Electric Daisy" movie premiering at the theater, a documentary featuring electronic music popular at raves. The crowd start getting unruly about 6:30 p.m., he said, and filled up the entire boulevard.
About 15 minutes later, he noticed one police car trying to direct people off the street, telling the fans through a loudspeaker that they had five minutes to leave. “All of a sudden, these dancers showed up. They got the crowd all riled up. The crowd pretty much smothered the cop car, and it ended up driving away,” Walsh said.
Walsh’s photos of the crowd included a man dressed in Spider-Man costume and scantily clad women in black boots wearing frilly white miniskirts holding black-framed umbrellas. “The tone of the crowd was chill, and it really just felt like, ‘We can do this because you can’t do anything about it,’” Walsh said.
At certain points, the crowd chanted Kaskade’s name and one person held up a sign with the deejay’s name.
As the chaos unfolded, workers started rolling up the red carpet.
Paris Hilton, who was on her way to attend the premiere, tweeted, “Omg! What’s going on on Hollywood Blvd?” Insomniac Inc. Chief Executive Pasquale Rotella, who founded the Electric Daisy Carnival, expressed anger at the unauthorized, aborted musical act, tweeting that he could not attend his own premiere because of the street closures. “What genius organized the street party!” tweeted Rotella. “I’m pretty bummed.”
Meanwhile, several hundred people had descended on Hollywood Boulevard, LAPD Cmdr. Andy Smith said. Although Kaskade was spotted by one LAPD officer driving by in a flatbed truck, he didn't stop -- and didn't spin music.
Many in the crowd surged into the street, some pelting police and bystanders with glass beer bottles, rocks and other debris. Others were unknowingly caught up in the sea of humanity -- including some tourists from Iowa who were looking at stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame one minute and in the next were detained along with dozens of other people for failure to disperse.
"They were just regular wide-eyed folks," Smith said.
Kaskade started urging his 90,000 Twitter followers to relax and leave the area. He tweeted, “EVERYONE CHILL NOW!!! The block party has officially been shut down! BUT THIS IS TOO CRAZY AND WE NEED TO BE SAFE!” This was followed by another tweet: “I AM REALLY CONCERNED FOR EVERYONES SAFETY AT THIS POINT! PLEASE RELAX” and then “EVERYONE NEEDS TO GO HOME NOW!”
At some point after 7, a line of about 15 police officers approached from the east, Walsh said, and began to walk toward the crowd, pushing them to them to the west. Later, more officers were added to the line. “But people weren’t leaving. All they were doing, they were forming a horseshoe around the police,” Walsh said.
Between 7:15 and 7:38, the police slowly pushed the crowd west toward Orange Drive, then ran south on that street, where Walsh witnessed members of the crowd jumping on a police car, shattering its windshield.
Smith said police fired nonlethal beanbags into the large crowd in an attempt to disperse them. At that point, Walsh said he saw many people running back onto Hollywood Boulevard.
Within a couple hours, the crowd had dispersed. Police re-opened Hollywood Boulevard. Although they initially detained dozens of people for failure to disperse, they made only a couple of arrests for vandalizing a police car.
“Once they destroyed that car, and the police started firing, then they ran north back onto Hollywood Boulevard,” Walsh said. Police persisted in pushing people away until the crowds faded.
-- Rong-Gong Lin II and Andrew Blankstein
Photo: A view of the crowd outside the "Electric Daisy Carnival Experience" screening. Credit: Nick Walsh