MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA : With her rainbow flag in hand, one UC Davis student joined crowds of people fleeing San Francisco’s City Center Plaza after witnessing gunshots at the city’s annual pride event, nearly two years ago.
San Francisco City Hall, lit in rainbow colors for the cities 2015 Pride celebration. (Link to Image Credit)
Shelby Mancini, 21, a psychology major, said the incident left her ‘feeling unconfident’ in security protocols at large, densely populated events like this one.
However, that didn’t stop Mancini from attending Ariana Grande’s ‘Dangerous Woman Tour’ at San Jose’s SAP Center this past April, nearly a month before the deadly explosion that killed 22 people at the same event in the Manchester, U.K.
“My initial reaction was that it must be a joke,” said Mancini. “I couldn’t believe the event I had been to a matter of days before, had been bombed.”
Within hours of the attack, Prime Minister Theresa May was quoted calling the tragedy “among the worst terrorist incidents we [Britain] have ever experienced.”
So, how safe do music lovers, like Mancini, feel attending events like this one in the future?
Mancini attended the ‘Dangerous Woman Tour’ at SAP Center on March 27, 2017. (Link to Image Credit)
“It won’t stop me,” said Sunce Franicevic, 19, a junior film major at the University of California, Berkeley.
“Of course, this is a tragedy in every sense of the word, but that doesn’t mean we can let the heinous actions of these terrorists rule our life,” Franicevic continued, “We have to show these terrorists that we won’t let them win.”
However, the question remains; how do we continue to secure events like this moving forward?
“What we’ve done is added turnstiles to the entrances so that the flow of guests can be better kept under control….but we don’t do thorough pat-downs on every single person at every concert.” Said Stefan Löcher, the director of the largest multipurpose venue in Germany, the Lanxess Arena, serving 1.4+ million visitors annually.
“We do bag checks 100 percent of the time. We have also banned bags that are larger than the size of a notebook,” Löcher continued, “Bags that are allowed in, are checked.”
The United States takes similar measures at larger scale events/concerts – but according to UC Davis psychology student Fatima Maldonado, it depends on the venue. “The last concert I attended was Coldplay at the Rose Bowl, in Pasadena.” The Rose Bowl, with a capacity of 92,542 – is one of the largest event centers in the nation.
The Rose Bowl, Pasadena, CA. (Link to Image Credit)
“We had to put all our items in clear plastic bag, and if it was larger than the average sized wallet, it wasn’t allowed in.” Said Maldonado.
Sam Tsoi, a 20-year-old computer science major at UC Davis, reflected on her experience at Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View, CA. She recalls people being “easily able to sneak into the venue,” and noted the large number of people also able to sneak alcohol or drugs past security, despite the amphitheater’s “strict” policy against bringing outside alcohol into the venue.
USA Today reports, “Unlike most sports arenas and stadiums, many smaller venues aren’t equipped to invest in screening devices, which typically start at $4,000 to $5,000.” Said the USA Today ‘life staff’ in a joint article published May 23, 2017.
“As these things evolve, we evolve with them.” Said Manuel Gomez, former special agent with the FBI and founder of ‘MG Security Services’, in an interview with Buzzfeed reporter Reggie Ugwu. “…It is just like when we started requiring you to take your shoes off at the airport, It’s a nuisance, but it’s a necessary nuisance.” Said Gomez.
MG Security Services LLC – Graphic. (Link to Image Credit)
Concerns for public safety still loom in the weeks following the attack; with yet another terrorist incident occurring in London only a few days after the violence in Manchester.
But Elizabeth Dwyer, De Anza College alumnus, says she would “think twice” before stepping into a large concert/event like Grande’s concert in the U.K., “you’d have to assure me that every pre-caution was taken before I decided to walk into a concert hall with 20,000 other people,” said Dwyer.
Mancini, Franicevic, Maldonado, and Tsoi all plan on attending this years San Francisco Pride event June 24-25. Hoping for heightened security, while they each focus on having a good time, not letting impending fear dictate their ability to “do what they love.”
‘One Love Manchester’ Logo – Ariana Grande, Dangerous Woman Tour. (Link to Image Credit)