Nearly 500 arrested at electronic music festivals in Pomona, San Bernardino

A woman is arrested by California Highway Patrol officers at a security checkpoint for HARD Day of the Dead at the Pomona Fairplex on Oct. 31.

A woman is arrested by California Highway Patrol officers at a security checkpoint for HARD Day of the Dead at the Pomona Fairplex on Oct. 31.

(Patrick T. Fallon / For The Times)

Nearly 500 people were arrested this weekend at two electronic music festivals in Pomona and San Bernardino, authorities said.

On Sunday, the second and final day of the Halloween-themed HARD Day of the Dead festival at the Pomona Fairplex, 162 people were arrested, according to figures released early Monday morning by the Pomona Police Department. An additional 148 people were arrested on Saturday.

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Authorities in San Bernardino arrested about 180 people at Escape: Psycho Circus, a two-day festival that began Friday at the National Orange Show Events Center.

At the Pomona rave, which featured headliners such as Skrillex, Deadmau5 and Hot Chip, most were arrested on charges of public intoxication, possession of illegal drugs or being under the influence of a controlled substance, police said in a statement. About 100 people were arrested on charges of carrying fake identification, authorities said.


The HARD Day of the Dead rave, which was hosted by Live Nation Entertainment, was under heightened scrutiny after two young women died of apparent drug overdoses after attending the Aug. 1 HARD Summer rave, also at the Pomona Fairplex. Several emergency room physicians have said that raves threaten public health, overwhelming hospitals and emergency rooms with young rave-goers, and medical staffs having to cope with cases of seizures, comas or deaths from illicit drugs.

After this summer’s deaths, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously convened a task force to examine rave safety. The fairgrounds are managed by a nonprofit and sit on county-owned land.

Beverly Hills-based Live Nation agreed to cancel a Sept. 10 electronic music event and added new measures for this weekend’s festival, including capping attendance at 40,000 a day, instead of 65,000, and raising the minimum age for entry to 21. The two women who died this past summer were under 21.

The festival drew 20,000 attendees on Saturday. Sunday’s figures were not available, according to a spokeswoman, who said Live Nation did not expect the crowd to exceed 20,000.

Other safety and security precautions for the event included dozens of medical staff at two designated areas, three on-site emergency room physicians, 184 police officers and 24 free water distribution points. The music festival paid for all the costs for police, fire and medical personnel.

Live Nation initially did not grant media credentials for this weekend’s event but last week said it would offer credentials “to qualifying media,” according to a festival spokeswoman.

Insomniac, a Live Nation subsidiary, put on the Escape: Psycho Circus rave in San Bernardino, which drew about 42,000 attendees on Friday and an additional 46,000 on Saturday, San Bernardino police Lt. Richard Lawhead said.

That festival saw no major incidents, and most of the arrests were on charges of illegal drug possession, trespassing or public intoxication, Lawhead said. Police had about a dozen “amnesty boxes” where concertgoers could deposit illegal drugs or weapons, with no questions asked.

“For the most part, all of the patrons were very, very cooperative, nice, respectful,” Lawhead told The Times.

More than 100 San Bernardino police officers and county sheriff’s deputies worked at the event, along with 500 private security guards hired by Insomniac, he said.

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