Brawl breaks out following beach concert

March 17, 2008 5:56:42 PM PDT
A weekend rap concert on Galveston's East Beach got out of control. Should there have been more officers? What is the city doing to keep families safe during spring break? Sring break is in full swing on Galveston island, but a concert that got out of control has some people questioning police security measures. The concerns started last night when a rap concert quickly turned into chaos.

Grant Hubbard found himself caught in the middle of what he describes as a riot. It happened Sunday night on Galveston's East Beach when a crowd leaving a rap concert crossed with spring break motorists, creating a traffic nightmare.

"People were fighting and trying to hook up and just trying to party in the road without a cop in sight," said Hubbard.

City officials say they aren't sure how many people attended the all-day concert, but there were at least 2,300 cars.

"There was certainly a lot of unruly behavior in and around the area we call the 'triangle,' with the congested traffic and people just doing what they felt like doing to have a good time," said Chief Kenneth Mack with the Galveston Police Department. "When all that did start, we did call in officers from off-duty."

When the fights broke out, Galveston called in the entire night watch, about 20 officers to disperse the crowd.

"We've had concerts before. It's really not been this big of an issue. We were surprised by the size of the crowds," said Galveston City Manager Steve LeBlanc. "It could have been the high price of gas, nice weather, spring break, certainly and the type of concert, hip hop, attracted a lot more people than we expected."

But Jonny Smecca, the owner of Mario's restaurant on the island, doesn't buy that and says the city should do more to protect businesses and tourists during spring break.

"We were on record pace to have a great spring break weekend and it was destroyed yesterday," he said.

It was no doubt a rough start for Galveston's spring break, but city officials and police want to reassure everyone that they are taking action.

"We are going to try to start working a lot more closely with the concessionaires down at East Beach and make sure that we work a little closer with them with any concert that he's going to have and we're certainly going to be staffing up a lot more," said Chief Mack.

Two people were arrested in connection with Sunday's incident. Nobody had to be transported for medical reasons.

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