After dedicating his set to victims of racially-motivated acts of police brutality, Blood Orange says he was attacked by three security guards at the festival.
Last night Dev Hynes a.k.a. Blood Orange posted a series of tweets recounting his and his girlfriend’s alleged assault by security during the first day of Lollapalooza. Hynes, who performed earlier in the day, said he was jumped by three security guards who grabbed him by the neck and threw him down after he questioned why they grabbed his girlfriend, singer Samantha Urbani.
“Everyone saw it. We are pressing charges, I can't believe it. I'm so upset. Why is this still happening? I just want to make music,” Hynes tweeted.
Now Hynes is asking anyone who saw the incident to corroborate his story, as one security has turned around and claimed that Hynes assaulted him.
In frustrating irony, Hynes was wearing a t-shirt as the incident occurred that paid tribute to victims of racially-motivated police and citizen brutality across the country. It was emblazoned with the names of Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old child killed on his way home from a snack run, Jordan Davis, another 17-year-old child gunned down for his and his companions’ “loud music,” and Eric Garner, a 6’3”, 350-pound asthmatic father of six who died from a chokehold administered by police officer Justin Damico on July 17. His crime? Selling untaxed cigarettes for 50 cents each, something that could barely be considered a crime. The way that police–and, in this case, security staff–respond based on race is a pattern we've seen play out on the national stage. It was the subject of a speech Hynes gave while on stage and, after he walked off, it showed itself again.
“I gave a speech on racism and police brutality and then I am jumped by three security guards and my gf is assaulted,” Hynes tweeted to Lollapalooza’s Twitter account. Hynes’ fans quickly took to his defense on Lollapalooza’s Facebook page but their questions and concerns were swiftly removed, according to him.
In a statement to Noisey, Britt Pierce, a publicist for the festival said, "Late Friday night, we learned of an incident involving an artist and a security guard on site. Since then, we have been in contact with those involved and the authorities, as we work together to resolve the situation. As always, our top priority is to ensure the safety of everyone at the festival."
Perhaps because so many of the mainstream festivals curate lineups and offer ticket prices that exclude swaths of the population–who are largely black, Latino, poor–the gate jumpers, drug abusers, drunken messes I see at summer music festivals are mostly white. Although I’ve seen staff security handle these jumpers and abusers and messes from time to time, many slip through their cracks. They’re the folks in fact that we find and interview for publications much like this: the weirdos, the freaks, the young kids doing shit that young kids do.
How do they always seem to get away with it? How is their good time never destroyed? How does Hynes, a performer at the festival, instead become the target, the victim?
The larger and more exclusive music festivals like Lollapalooza become, the more likely we are to see incidences in which anyone that doesn’t fit the “image” (white) will be harassed in the name of appearances and prejudices and racism. Their rightful claims as performers or guests won’t matter. Anyone that doesn’t fall in line will be weeded out.
Of course, we can't know for certain what motivated the three security guards involved. I wasn't there and am only basing my assumptions on what I've read this morning and what I know as a black person in the United States. As the facts emerge, there will be two sides to the story. That is how the world works. However, one of Hynes' tweets rings alarmingly true: “The irony after my t shirt and message this morning, we are in shock.” I wish I could say the same.
Read Hynes' full account of the incident below.
Britt Julious is a Chicago-based writer. Follow her on Twitter - @britticisms.