By Maeve Slon
The warm, September night was supposed to be filled with excitement, but instead turned to fear and chaos. Tribune reporter Maeve Slon was at the fifth annual Global Citizens Festival and gives a firsthand account.
Rapper Cardi B had just finished her performance. My friend Alyssa and I walked out of the crowd down to some benches to meet her dad. He was working as a security guard at the event. Away from the giant crowd, we sat around, talking and stretching, preparing ourselves to be squashed again. After a little while, we decided to walk back.
Suddenly, I noticed a large group of people running towards the exit—where we were walking from. People were screaming and running towards us. I had no idea what was happening and I just stood confused.
Someone shouted, “There’s someone with a gun!” and I froze. I was pushed against the barricade, unable to move and or process anything. My brain told me that I needed to run, but I couldn’t. My friend was no longer by my side.
As of 2018, mass shooting is a constant threat to Americans on the daily. The Washington Post continuously updates an interactive online feature about every shooting in America. In 2018 alone, there have been 56 deaths and 12,056 cases of gun-related violence.
I pulled my phone out of my pants pocket. My lock screen opened.
Three missed calls.
In those moments, I forgot the endless articles about mass shootings and what to do when you were in one.
At Harvest, I was one of many students who participated in the National School Walkout on March 14, 2018. We joined many students who decided to walk out of school in support of the March For Our Lives movement which calls for gun control after the shooting at MSD.
In the midst of the panic, I found Alyssa.
We grabbed each other’s hands and she turned to me. Her expression was serious, something I wasn’t used to seeing from her. Usually when we talk to each other we’re joking.
“I need to find my dad,” she said. I nodded and we went running back towards the stage, back towards where the supposed threat had been.
Those who ran dropped everything in their path. Bags, shoes, and phones scattered the lawn.
Alyssa’s dad was there with a group of other security guards. We ran up to him still gripping each other’s hands. When we asked him what was happening he told us he did not know, but it still could be dangerous.
The once crowded field was now empty. Out of nowhere, the NYPD was on the stage announcing to us that there was no real threat. It was only fear that had sparked the panic.
Four in ten Americans fear being a victim of a mass shooting, according to a Gallup poll taken after the 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas.
At Global Fest, there was no one with a gun, but the shock was still blanketing the audience. Some were on the floor sobbing.
It was later found out that a barricade had fallen, making a loud noise sparking the panic.
“This could have been avoided,” Alyssa told me a few days later. “Everyone is so scared that the smallest noise will set us all off.”
Although there was no one armed at Global Citizens Festival, many attendees ended up injured. People were trapped and pushed—and in the process of trying to get to safety, fell. Could this all have been avoided?
“If we weren’t so scared of getting shot anywhere we go, there would be no panic,” Alyssa said. “I am really glad we’re okay and nothing actually happened.”