Tyler, the Creator denies inciting riot at SXSW

Tyler, the Creator performs during the SXSW music festival.
(Jack Plunkett / Invision / Associated Press)

After a March 13 SXSW showcase, the rapper Tyler, the Creator was arrested on suspicion of inciting a riot. The artist, born Tyler Okonma, was caught on video leading a chant of “Push, push, push” from the stage, allegedly encouraging the crowd outside to break through security barricades. The crowd did, and briefly shut down the show.

The 23-year-old rapper was arrested the following day at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport and posted $25,000 bond. Now, through his attorney, he has released a statement denying any intention of starting a melee.

“At no time during the ... concert did Tyler seek to incite or participate in riotous activity as has been reported in the press,” said his attorney, Perry Q. Minton. “It is clear from video clips and witness reports that the patrons and fans attending the show on that date were full of positive energy appropriate for this type of event and never exhibited any anger or aggression whatsoever.”

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If convicted, Okonma faces up to a year in prison and a $4,000 fine.

“For law enforcement or the media to describe the rush of fans through the gate and the subsequent benign, boisterous activity as a riot is an unfortunate and inaccurate description of what occurred,” Minton wrote. “Tyler is not a violent individual and would never deliberately engage in any activity that would put another person at risk of being hurt.”

The incident occurred just two days after a separate, unrelated incident in which a car crashed into a crowd of pedestrians outside a venue where Okonma was scheduled to perform. The crash killed three and injured dozens of others.


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