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Multiple Stampedes End Juneteenth Festival In Leimert Park, Jazmine Sullivan Cancels Performance

According to the LAPD, “around 7:50 p.m., Southwest Division patrol officers responded to the area of Stocker Street and Leimert Boulevard for multiple radio calls of shots fired.” A spokesperson said that “upon arrival, officers determined that there was no evidence of a shooting.”

12:55 PM PDT on June 20, 2023

People gather in Leimert Park on Juneteenth.
Lexis-Olivier Ray|

People continue to gather in Leimert Park on Juneteenth following a stampede and unconfirmed reports of a shooting.

R&B singer Jazmine Sullivan canceled her performance at the Juneteenth Festival in Leimert Park on Sunday after a stampede broke out and unconfirmed reports of a shooting. “I hope everyone made it home to their loved ones tonight!” Sullivan wrote on Instagram. “I’m so disappointed we couldn’t come together and celebrate Juneteenth! If you’re still at the park, please leave. The show is canceled.”

At around 7:45 PM, dozens of people ran down Degnan Boulevard away from the park as multiple LAPD patrol cars raced down Stocker Street towards Leimert Boulevard. Video footage posted to social media shows hundreds of people scattering from the park just before Sullivan was set to take the stage.

Out of breath and standing on the corner of Degnan and Stocker, one concertgoer told an L.A. TACO reporter that they ran away from the event because they thought there was a shooting. “I got up out there,” they told someone on the phone.

An LAPD spokesperson told L.A. TACO that “around 7:50 p.m., Southwest Division patrol officers responded to the area of Stocker Street and Leimert Boulevard for multiple radio calls of shots fired.” The spokesperson said that “upon arrival, officers determined that there was no evidence of a shooting.”

While investigating the shooting, “a group fight in the area began,” the spokesperson said. “Officers requested additional resources, and the group eventually dispersed. No arrests were made for the fight.”

Roughly 15 minutes after the first stampede, something happened that caused hundreds of people to scatter from the park again. Someone on stage attributed the disturbances to “fireworks.”

On social media, people who said they attended the Juneteenth celebration complained that the park was too crowded and there weren’t enough security and crowd control measures in place. “I was near both of the stampedes that occurred at Leimert Park,” someone who said they attended the festival told L.A. TACO. “I didn't see or hear any gunfire, but there was the smell of gunfire.” “I'm very disappointed in the lack of police presence at the event. Only one cop at the metro station was visible during the entire event.”

Another person who said they worked security for the festival told L.A. TACO that they felt “there was a huge public safety issue that really could have been a lot worst.”

Other festival-goers complained about LAPD helicopters circling above kids and parents roller skating and said law enforcement's presence made people uncomfortable. On Crenshaw Boulevard a sign read “fuck the police they come from slave catchers.”

A spokesperson for the LAPD said that they do not disclose deployment numbers to the public, “but adequate resources were available.” They added that there were no other public safety issues at the festival.

Councilmember Heather Hutt’s office did not respond to a request for comment sent via email this morning.

The crowd surges left some people in tears and young children with terrified looks on their faces after what was generally a very positive and celebratory day. On social media, people who said they attended the festival said they were injured while trying to flee the scene. Someone who said they worked as a security guard for the event tweeted that a child was reportedly lost during the disturbance. 

Following the stampedes, hundreds of people left Leimert Park disappointed and confused. “Well, that was traumatizing,” a woman said while walking away from the park. As people walked back to their cars, they discussed what happened.

Sunday’s Juneteenth festival drew tens of thousands of people, and more than 300 vendors to Leimert Park, a historic Black neighborhood and cultural hub in South Los Angeles dubbed the Black Greenwich Village by the late John Singleton.

This year’s festival was the first since Juneteenth was declared a national holiday and by far the biggest yet. In the last four years, Juneteenth at Leimert Park has grown from a local community event into more of a music festival. This year organizers booked major headlining artists like Wale and Jazmine Sullivan and signed big-name sponsors such as Chase Bank and Mcdonald's. More than 50,000 people were expected, according to LAist editor Aaricka Washington. The massive crowds led to congestion within the park and food lines stretching hundreds of feet.

Shortly before the first stampede, on the outskirts of the festival, people roller skated on Crenshaw Boulevard, dunked basketballs through a hoop attached to a bus and watched independent rapper LaRussell perform as the sun dipped behind the Black-owned businesses lining the boulevard. “It was not all bad. It was nice,” a festival attendee wrote on Twitter. “Just went too long, and ppl run when other ppl run. And they shoulda had Jasmine come on early!!”

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