Student Tear Gassed in Punk Riot

El Vaquero Staff Writer<

With 1,500 people involved in a large scale riot, two destroyed police cars, four injured officers and thousands of dollars in damages to local businesses, the British Invasion 2K6 concert on March 4 left a GCC student, J.C. Chan, tear-gassed and a trail of destruction in San Bernardino.

A large scale, outdoor concert at the National Orange Shows Event Center (NOS Event Center) ended in violence when a fight escalated into a full-blown riot.

Selicia Kennedy of The San Bernardino Sun stated, “About 1,500 concert-goers spilled out into the street shortly after 9 p.m., smashing business windows, throwing bottles, setting fires and trashing parked cars.”

The British Invasion 2K6, an all day event that hosted more then 20 punk bands including The Addicts, GBH and Vice Squad started at 2 p.m. at the NOS Event Center.

A GCC English Major, J.C. Chan, 22, attended the concert with a group of friends, was tear-gassed by police and witnessed what started as a fight escalate to a riot.

At about 8:30 p.m. that evening, a group of neo-Nazi skinheads started to yell racist slogans at a group of young kids. The slogans offended a group of traditional non-racist skinheads and a fight ensued.

Neo-Nazi skinheads follow the racist teachings of Adolf Hitler, while traditional non-racist skinheads derived from the British working-class believe in racial tolerance and unity among all nationalities.

The fight involving 30 neo-Nazis and six anti-racist skinheads ended with one of the neo-Nazis being stabbed by an unknown assailant and another being hit in the head with a chair, according to Chan.

As the fight continued to grow out of control, the concert was shut down by event officials and all in attendance were ordered to leave the event center.

When the police and paramedics arrived to treat the injured they met some resistance by a frustrated and angry crowd.

Most in attendance were unaware of the fight and stabbing, when the police arrived, many in the crowd became agitated.

“Punks and cops both have negative pre-assumed notions of each other,” said Chan, “That punks are always up to no-good and cops are always the bad guy, so the crowd became anxious when the police arrived.”

Due to the crowd’s resistance, paramedics were unable to reach the injured victims for at least two hours until more support arrived.

According to Kennedy, both men were transported to Loma Linda University Medical Center and were both listed in stable condition.

As more police officials arrived in full riot gear and ordered all in attendance to leave the event center, the crowd reacted negatively to the demands and the altercation erupted to one of greater proportion, according to Chan.

The frustration of the crowd continued to grow as they were being forced to leave the event.

Many decided to vent their frustration by vandalizing neighboring businesses, and a Jack-In-The-Box and Gus’ Jr. restaurant was looted and vandalized. Two police cars parked inside the venue were over-turned and destroyed.

“I understand the kids’ frustration, but that’s no excuse to vandalize the surrounding mom and pop-type businesses that cannot afford the cost of the damages,” Chan said.

As the crowd grew angrier, glass bottles were thrown at police officers, businesses’ windows were smashed, and store fronts vandalized.

Two police sergeants and two other officers were injured in the confrontation, according to San Bernardino Police Sgt. Rick Lindsey and The Sun.

The crowd made of mostly younger punk fans, ages 15 to 20 were waiting for either friends or parents to pick them up in-front the concert after being told to leave the venue.

When orders by the San Bernardino Police Department to disperse immediately went unheard, the police fired tear-gas and flash grenades into the crowd. Chan waiting for a friend was accidentally caught up in the crowd and tear-gassed.

As flash grenades exploded and tear-gas filled the air, groups of kids ran franticly through the streets trying to escape the chaos, while others shouted profanities at police, doing anything to annoy officers.

“You would see like 13-year old kids being held at gun point by the police,” said Chan, “then in the distance you see these little puffs of smoke as flash grenades went off. I just think the whole situation was handed badly. There was a major lack of communication from to the police to the crowd.”

When the riot ended, six people were arrested on suspicion of various charges throughout the night, according to Sgt. Lindsey.

Kelly Rayburn of The Sun stated, because of the violence and destruction left by British Invasion 2K6. San Bernardino Mayor, Pat Morris is cancelling all shows at the NOS Event Center, until the fairgrounds adopt new guidelines to prevent another riot from occurring.

As for the future of other punk rock concerts in the community, Morris said, “He was disgusted by the rioting. The destruction caused by punk-rock fans who came from near and far was evidence of a population of young people that we should not welcome in our community.”

This event just adds another negative stereotype to an already bad rap-sheet facing the punk community.

Many of the concert goers in attendance were there to simply see bands touring from England, others simply got carried away by the mob mentality, made bad choices and having those decisions represent the punk community as a whole.

As for Chan he had some final thoughts on the event, “It’s not an unusual occurrence. This kind of music has always had a high capacity for violence. I just hope that the next time around, the casualties won’t consist of people who were just working late at some fast food joint that doesn’t pay them enough already as it is.”