Last Updated: Wednesday, February 01, 2017

SXSW: No Sooner Said Than Confirmed (Now, It's Shots Fired)
Updated: Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Another unsafe SXSW festival in Austin, Texas. Editorial Cartoon: CMS (c) 2016

No more than four days since Crowd Management Strategies posted its requiem for SXSW as a safe and well managed festival, shots were fired amidst a festival crowd on early Sunday, the start of the music and tech festivalís last day.

One alleged shooter, engaged in an argument, fired a handgun into the air around Sixth and Trinity streets on the festival site. The shooter caused the downtown Austin festivalgoers to flee. Fortunately, no one was injured. Fortunately, Austin police apprehended the shooter and another individual in possession of a handgun.

This incident was one of a series of disorders SXSW festivalgoers had to maneuver around this year. The other incidents included, besides Hijabgate, a high profile brawl that ended Lil Uzi Vertís concert, also on Sunday. While, a local civic group monitoring police activities alleged Austin police were heavy handed in their use of pepper spray during the festival.

There is no question that the SXSW festival needs---in the parlance of its tech fans---a Version 2.0. Festival co-founder Roland Swenson has a lot of work to do fix his creation. It is not an impossible task, but it is one that must overhaul the festivalís crowd safety and security strategies. The Austin community has soul searching to do as well. There should be an end to the whitewashing of fire, building and public safety transgressions during the festival.

SXSW organizers brag about the hundreds of millions of dollars they bring to Austin and the international reputation the festival has gained. That will all be forgotten if there is another 2014-type crowd tragedy at SXSW.




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