Boiler Room Weekender Attendees and Performers Accuse Police and Security of Racially Targeted, Heavy-Handed Tactics
Festival attendees spoke out against the actions taken by law enforcement and Split Rock Resort staff.
Attendee allegedly injured in police altercation. Photo by Tom Keelan.
After news broke early Sunday morning that the Ray-Ban x Boiler Room Weekender in Lake, Harmony, Pennsylvania, had been shut down prematurely, reports emerged from attendees and performers alleging that police and security used heavy-handed tactics and appeared to target people of color while trying to manage the crowd.
Programming at the two-day festival—which took place at the Split Rock Resort in Lake Harmony, Pennsylvania—ground to a halt at 2 AM after police arrested 19-year-old Kaylan Jones for misdemeanor offenses, including possession of a small amount of marijuana, and possession of a controlled substance. Jones was arrested as the GHE20G0TH1K party was underway, and, according to a police statement, was also charged with resisting arrest. Video footage has emerged of Jones reportedly having a panic attack while being escorted out of the party by police . She is currently in the Carbon County Correctional Facility in lieu of $50,000 bail, and is expected to be released today.
Multiple witnesses told THUMP that they saw police targeting people of color during the festival—including subjecting festivalgoers to extra security checks, and using excessive force in controlling the crowd.
"There was a complete and transparent targeting of black people at this event," one attendee, who went by Damon, told THUMP. "And the event security was happy to help."
A representative of the NON Worldwide collective who was at festival told THUMP: "The larger issue at stake is people of color not being safe."
The NON member, who wished to remain anonymous, said that he was put into a "light chokehold" by a member of Split Rock Resort's security staff as he was filming police arresting Jones.
"I got pushed and got into a light chokehold by a security guard," he said. According to the NON representative, a video posted to the collective's Instagram caught the incident on camera, though the footage is difficult to make out.
Other attendees reported having their phones taken from them by resort staff as they were filming the police activity underway at the festival in a rural part of Pennsylvania.
Sophia Marsh, a festival-goer, tweeted that her phone was taken from her while she was filming. She also tweeted that it was returned to her with smashed screen.
Another festival-goer, Daniel Moore, posted a picture of himself on Facebook with cuts on his face, injuries that sources said were sustained in an altercation with authorities.
SHYBOI, a New York-based musician who was slated to play the Discwoman afterparty on the Saturday night, tweeted that police were taking phones away. Most accounts, however, reported that it was members of the resort's security team confiscating the phones.
Venus X, GHE20G0TH1K's founder, posted a statement on Instagram saying that police "stormed GHE20G0TH1K half way through" the party. "The town where we were booked 'Harmony, PA' had Trump signs everywhere and the police were definitely focused on our event which just so happened to also feature the only rappers on the whole festival lineup," she wrote, referring to MCs Nina Tech and Bali Baby.
DJ Haram and Bearcat also spoke out against the police and security presence over the weekend.
In a statement, Boiler Room condemned the "unnecessary display of force" used by law enforcement and the resort's security team. The festival organizers pointed out that until the arrest on the Saturday night, no arrests or incidents had occurred at the 3000-person festival.
An attendee who went by J. Collins told THUMP that the GHE20G0TH1K event was weekend's hotly anticipated party. "Andre 3000 was in attendance, and it was rumored that he was going to perform with Divine Council during their set there," they said. "Criticisms aside, this was a really cool event that I hope continues to happen—I'd just like it to be fully executed without racism interjecting."
DC-based DJ and producer zacheser tweeted in support of Boiler Room's actions during the festival, saying he thought they did what they could to keep people safe.
The NON member said that the events of the weekend highlighted the pervading racial tension in the US. "In America we're not safe," he said. "Not safe in the cities. And clearly not safe outside of the city."
He added that while he thought Boiler Room acted with professionalism and did the best they could given the circumstances, he felt the incident demonstrated the how vulnerable artists of color are when performing at festivals.
"You have to realize the culture that comes with this emerging talent," he said. "And you have to keep it safe."