Thousands of LA Pride-goers spent their celebratory weekend staring down police as organizers turned away ticket holders because they oversold the event.
Christopher Street West, the organization that runs LA Pride, has not provided numbers on how many were turned away on Saturday and Sunday nights. This year is the first time the festival has sold out in its 48-year history, according to a statement from the organization.
The record crowds turned ugly Saturday night, as police helicopters circled the crowd and threatened to arrest angry ticket holders who had been turned away.
“This really was one of the most dangerous prides I went to,” one attendee Tweeted. “People getting angry/starting fights for being turned away for tickets we paid for months ago.”
to add to my #LAPride rants: this really was one of the most dangerous prides i went to–people getting angry/starting fights for being turned away for tickets we paid for months ago—-i saw more lgbt ppl try to keep everyone safe than the police…
— Hannah🏳️🌈🇮🇷 (@the_Germaphobe) June 10, 2018
According to West Hollywood Police Captain Sergio Aloma, police officers donned protective gear after it seemed that crowd could get agitated.
“Out of an abundance of caution we just decided to ask for additional resources,” said Aloma of a request from backup from other municipalities, “There were initial reports that people in the crowd were throwing bottles at deputies.”
— City of West Hollywood (@WeHoCity) June 10, 2018
According to Aloma, no officers or attendees were injured as a result of the overcrowding.
“I think that all in all after the night was over, we were thankful that no one was hurt,” he said.
Twitter was ablaze Saturday night with angry festival-goers who purchased $30 tickets months in advance to see headliner Kehlani. Several reported that many had traveled from across the country to come to the event, only to be denied entry.
“I’m seeing all your tweets and messages,” Kehlani responded. “I’m sorry LA Pride reached their full capacity and aren’t letting any more people in. y’all deserve refunds and I hope we get a chance to jam soon.”
Police say they shut down entrance to the event between 10 and 11 pm on Saturday, while they allowed the festival to finish at the scheduled time of 1 am.
In a statement to INTO, Christopher Street West said, “We made mistakes and we are sorry. Yes, we oversold tickets and we accept responsibility for all the issues that caused at the door.”
According to the group, it has historically oversold tickets because festival-goers tend to come and go throughout the day. This year, however, many people arrived early and stayed all day.
“We want as many people as possible to enjoy the Festival and to support our community partners exhibiting there,” the organization said.
The organizers had vowed to issue refunds or free admission to Sunday’s festival. However, INTO Managing Editor Trish Bendix, who was turned away Saturday, could not get into Sunday’s event either.
“Despite having a media pass and wristband for entry, I wasn’t able to get in at any of the entrances, including the specified area for press, VIP, and anyone needing ADA access,” Bendix says. “The security was refusing anyone in, even on Sunday when LA Pride said wristbands would be allowed. It was incredibly frustrating, and many people I spoke with had similarly poor experiences with the overcrowding and lack of communication.”
Even those inside Saturday’s concert complained of mishaps, with Kehlani’s sound cutting out completely and her monitors failing her.
“Really bummed about all the technical difficulties,” the artist tweeted. “Tried my hardest with absolutely ZERO ear monitor. had a blast with y’all tho… hope i get a chance to come and do this how I planned to some day.. much love LA.”
Another group reported that the venue ran out of water early in the night, forcing them to leave. They were barred from re-entry.
Christopher Street West did not respond to follow-up questions about safety concerns or sound issues, but instead provided a statement that read, in part: “This has never happened before. We were not prepared for it. We are truly sorry. This will be fixed next year.” Those who purchased tickets or wristbands that were never scanned at the gate can request a refund by emailing [email protected] or calling 323.908.0607.