New Jersey State Police donned riot gear and slapped several revelers in cuffs Sunday night after a closed gate led to a tense standoff at Summer Jam 2015.
Tensions rose at MetLife Stadium after police closed the concert when crowds rushed a gate in an attempt “to illegally enter” the show around 7 p.m., police said. But the shutdown also kept out members of the crow who had bought tickets, creating an uproar.
State Police carried shields and batons and donned helmets while dispersing the crowd.
Several concertgoers chucked bottles at police and an armored police vehicle fired tear gas twice into the crowd near the MetLife gate.
State police later said that hired security personnel at a stadium entrance “were confronted by crowds attempting to illegally enter the sold out Summer Jam concert by climbing over fences and forcing their way through security personnel.
“The gates have been shut and troopers on site have called for assistance from several nearby stations to help maintain order,” the agency said in a statement.
A New Jersey State Police spokesman said several people had been arrested at the concert and more troopers were deployed for back up.
Videos posted online showed the chaotic scene, with bottles tossed as anger boiled over in the parking lot.
“People were throwing bottles acros the crowd,” witness Janae Griffin, who drove up from Baltimore, told the Associated Press. “We got into a confrontation with a guy who was deliberately trying to vandalize a police car and was just making it worse of a situation than it needed to be.”
Hot 97, the radio station that hosted the event said “a small number of people created an unsafe environment” after learning the event was sold out before state police dispersed the crowd.
“The gates were closed at that time. No further entry was permitted into the event,” the statement read. “For ticket holders whose tickets were not scanned, refunds will be offered at the point of purchase.”
The statement was blasted on the station’s website by several Facebook users, many of whom said they were shut out after purchasing a ticket. One woman wrote that she drove five hours to the show and found the gates already closed at 6:30 p.m. Crystal Clark said no official information was released to those waiting outside and instead rumors circulated.
“Frustrations grew and unfortunately people reacted in a (angry) and violent manner,” she wrote. “All of this could have been avoided if the concert was organized properly … I would definitely like refund and I will no longer support Hot 97.”
At least one state trooper was injured in several large skirmishes that broke out at the one-day music festival, CBS 2 reported.
Thousand of fans poured into the Meadowlands sports complex for the concert, which featured Kendrick Lamar, Trey Songz and Big Sean.
Even rapper 50 Cent, who performed alongside Chris Brown, said he faced tight security on his way in, writing on Instagram that he was searched as if his crew was “the Isis group.”
On Monday, WQHT morning host Ebro Darden addressed the gate closure throughout his 6-10 a.m. show.
“We feel disappointed,” said Darden, a former Hot 97 program director. “Tens of thousands of people inside were enjoying themselves, having the time of their lives, and a few crazies outside were creating chaos.”
The talk theme of the morning was remembering moments when “someone tried to mess up a good time.”
He said the gates were closed, denying admission even to people with tickets, “for safety reasons.”
Darden said the station is “doing research” on who was creating the problem, but he noted the reports that people without tickets were bum-rushing one of the gates, “trying to get in for free.”
He said Summer Jam has been going on for 23 years and acknowledged “there have been problems in the past,” though he said there was “nothing as serious” as people throwing bottles at police.
“When you have thousands of people for a concert,” problems will happen, he said, “and it’s not just hip-hop. It’s all formats. People are afraid of this kind of behavior from young people, and we have to take the bad with the good sometimes.”
The station “will readdress” the idea of Summer Jam for next year, but he Darden did not elaborate what that means for the future of the festival.
“We can’t allow the the actions of a few idiots to ruin a celebration of something we love,” Darden said of his feelings on the issue.