‘It worked perfectly’: Police explain pepper ball use after Travis Scott fans react to concert being postponed at 11th hour
02/13/2019 – A small amount of damage and the odor of pepper spray were left behind after a crowd became agitated and broke some glass at the BOK Center when the sold-out Travis Scott concert was postponed at the 11th hour.
The BOK Center learned from the production company only about a half hour before the doors were scheduled to open that the show would have to be postponed, according to director of marketing Meghan Blood. At 6:13 p.m., the venue announced that the show was being moved to March 26 due to technical production issues.
Tulsa Police Sgt. Shane Tuell said the crowd waiting outside the venue quickly became unruly. Some people who came for the concert had traveled great distances, he said, and some had been waiting since noon to get in the doors.
Scott posted this message on social media at 7:30 p.m.: “Tulsa so sorry I can’t perform at tonight’s sold-out show. We had last-minute production issues and I can’t give y’all an incomplete show. Rescheduled til March 26, all tix still valid. Everyone get home safe.”
Many of his fans instead stayed outside the venue, and some banged on the BOK Center’s glass doors, one of which cracked. Blood said that was the only damage to the venue and that the minor repairs were being completed Wednesday.
Off-duty, uniformed police officers were assisting the BOK Center with security and were inside with the front doors locked during the incident. Blood said on-duty officers who were working the streets near the venue were also pulled into the building as the crowd became agitated.
Tuell said police officers shot pepper balls at hard surfaces — not at individuals — to de-escalate the tension outside the BOK Center. The pepper balls, he said, had the intended effect of getting the crowd to move away from the building quickly.
“If it looks like a crowd is going to be unruly — they’re angry, stuff is being thrown — if you allow the crowd to remain unruly in that area, it’ll begin to fester. There’s more chance that it could escalate and turn into great damage, or even worse, it could turn into great injury.”
Tuell said he did not know yet which officer or officers deployed the pepper balls. However, he said they are a tool made available to on- and off-duty officers.
“We use those pepper balls to effectively, safely contaminate an environment to gain a peaceful response, and it worked perfectly,” he said.
No arrests were made Monday night. Nor did police receive reports that anyone had been struck or injured by the pepper balls.
Tuell said that if an individual is identified as one who instigated the crowd to violence or caused the damage to the building, that person might be cited or charged with a crime.
Scott’s Astroworld tour kicked off Nov. 8 in Baltimore, but production issues seemed to plague the crew as early as the following night. The Nov. 9 show in Raleigh, North Carolina, was delayed more than three hours.
“Elements of Travis Scott’s tour production were behind schedule arriving to the venue and loading in due to unforeseen circumstances,” the Raleigh venue said in a statement.
Among the show’s production pieces is a working roller coaster from which the rapper performs; at some tour stops, he has brought fans on stage to enjoy the slow-moving ride.
No issues were reported at Scott’s Miami stop on Nov. 11, but his Nov. 12 show in Tampa, Florida, was postponed that day “due to technical production issues.” Fans at that tour stop had several more hours’ notice of the scheduling issues, as the venue announced the postponement at 1 p.m. that day.
On Nov. 12, it was announced that the next three stops — in Hartford, Connecticut (Nov. 30), Cleveland, Ohio (Dec. 4), and Milwaukee (Dec. 9) — also would be postponed.
Production issues also cost Scott’s tour its original opener, as Ohio rapper Trippie Redd pulled out in December with as many as 10 shows left.
Sources close to Redd reportedly told TMZ he had become increasingly frustrated over production issues and interrupted set times. The amount of time required to assemble the stage for a headliner can cut into performance time for an opener.
Tickets will be valid at the March 26 rescheduled show at the BOK Center. For refunds, ticket holders should return to the point of purchase.