Ultra Music Announces Review After Festival Security Draws Criticism
Statement comes after city officials call to deny permits for next year's festival.
The Ultra Music Fest today announced a comprehensive review of all security procedures for its annual electronic dance music festival. The initiative follows an incident last weekend in which crowds breached a security fence on Friday, March 28, crushing a security guard that left her in critical condition.
The announcement comes after city officials, citing this year's security breakdown, called for denying permits for next year's Ultra. "What happened this weekend is an event that could have been avoided," Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado said. "The organizers of Ultra did not follow the police directive to re-enforce the fence, even though they knew that this year, and the year before, some kids have tried to overrun the fences … This is something that could have been avoided. So in the next weeks we are going to have a discussion on the city commission level to deny the permits for next year for the event here in the city of Miami."
In today's statement, however, Ultra condemned the actions of what they called "unruly gate crashers who lacked tickets" and "engaged in criminal activity." The fest also noted it had "deployed a larger security and police presence" this year and worked closely with the Miami Police and Fire Departments, the Bayfront Park Management Trust and the Miami Risk Management Department.
In the release, Ultra cited specific measures undertaken at this year's fest, such as having 257 police officers deployed (49 more than last year); 18 undercover detail officers (including Homeland Security and DEA officers); and having double fencing and an 8-foot-high security fence. The fest also proposed improved measures for next year, including working with the Miami Police Department to assess where more security measures can be added for next year.
Yesterday, a report surfaced of a young man who died in connection to the Ultra Music Festival in Miami over this weekend. According to local news station NBC 6 South Florida, the young man died late in the evening Saturday or early morning Sunday. An AP report put arrests at this year's festival at 84 -- 22 arrests Friday, 33 arrests Saturday and 29 arrests Sunday. Last year, police arrested 167 people. "We've had some people sustain minor injuries as a result of dancing and then we've had some people that were found unconscious or used some illegal substances that caused them to overdose," Lt. Ignatius Carroll said.
The Ultra music festival, which was founded in 1999, says it drew some 165,000 attendees from 84 countries and estimates the event has an economic impact of more than $80 million annually, creating over 1,000 jobs.