Concertgoers say Riot Fest security guard cursed, used strobe lights, otherwise abused power


CHICAGO (CBS) — When major festivals descend on city parks, it is the job of organizers to hire private security to get fans in and out smoothly.

But “smooth” is not how several fans describe the way one guard managed their exit Friday night at Riot Fest in Douglass Park.

As CBS 2’s Chris Tye reported, video showed the guards using strobe lights and expletives as more than 10,000 people were exiting.

It was 10:30 p.m. Friday, and the band My Chemical Romance had just wrapped.

Tens of thousands of fans had to leave through one exit, and one guard made the end of one evening one unpleasant experience.

“We had seen one of our favorite bands play,” said concert attendee Mike Clemenhagen. “It was amazing.”

The minute they exited the park, they say one private security guard changed the vibe – and Clemenhagen got the video rolling.

“Get the (expletive) out of here,” the guard is heard saying to Clemenhagen while wielding a strobe light.

“He was definitely the aggressor in this situation,” Clemenhagen said. “Like, none of the other security guards were doing what he was doing.”

We blurred the face of the guard from Luna Security for this story. But we did play audio of him explaining why he was acting in such a fashion.

“You guys are blocking my lines up,” the guard is heard saying. “I got 10,000 people to get the (expletive) out of here, and you are playing around.”

Clemenhagen noted that in the vide, a “kid” who got his shirt ripped in the video after he stepped in to stop the security guard, and said “Hey, leave them alone.”

Supplied to CBS 2

We tracked down that fan – Aiden Hoppins, who is now home in Milwaukee.

“He clearly was creating a hostile environment,” Hoppins said.

A vendor outside the gates was selling water, blocking the flow of fans. As friends helped the vendor re-position, it escalated.

Hoppins said the guard told a passerby: “You know what? You’re going to jail.”

“I did make a comment. I said, ‘You’re not a cop, dude – like, come on,'” Hoppins said. “That’s when he focused his attention on me.”

Hoppins continued, “As soon as I ended up touching the flashlight, the other security guards started to – I guess they were trying to shove me to the ground or something and try and restrain me.”

Neither the security company nor the festival answered our calls for comment – leaving fans to draw their own conclusions.

“People who are given any amount of authority will abuse it, it seems like,” Clemenhagen said.

“I was just thinking, I don’t believe I did anything wrong,” Hoppins said. “I was trying to help, and I guess my quip was a little bit too much for him.”

Hoppins, in his torn shirt, says he reached out to police officers just down the block, but he says they did nothing. He opted not to file a police report.

This all comes as many neighbors in Douglass Park – which straddles the Lawndale and Little Village communities – have been pushing hard to have the entire festival moved out of their neighborhood.

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