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French man loses hand in pre-festival clash

Seven people, including five police officers, were injured on Friday night as police broke up an illegal rave in Brittany.

Violent clashes broke out after 400 gendarmes were dispatched to shut down the party, a so-called ‘teknival’ which had been organised in violation of an 11pm curfew, at a racecourse near the commune of Redon on the evening of 18 June.

The rave was held on the eve of the annual Fête de la Musique festival – which takes place in a reduced-capacity format today (21 June) – and was intended to commemorate Steve Maia Caniço, a young man who died after falling into the Loire river during Fête de la Musique in 2019. ‘Justice for Steve’ protesters hold the police responsible for Caniço’s death, which occurred after officers moved in to break up a gathering in Nantes.

Authorities say some partygoers pelted police with molotov cocktails and pieces of breeze block

Local authorities had secured a legal order against the party, which involved as many as 1,500 people. The National Gendarmerie seized equipment including sound systems and generators after dispersing the crowds.

Speaking to AFP, local prefect Emmanuel Berthier describes the “very violent clashes” on 18 June between police and the ravers, who “had an objective: to confront the forces of public order”. Authorities say some partygoers brought metal pétanque balls to the rave, while others pelted police with molotov cocktails and pieces of breeze block.

Two police officers suffered serious enough injuries as to need hospital treatment, while two ravers were also injured – including one man who lost a hand in the violence. Organisers of the rave accuse police of choosing ‘violence instead of dialogue’ after firing tear gas grenades at the gathering.

 


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Wave of illegal concerts sweeps South America

Thousands of South Americans attended illegal, non-socially distanced concerts and parties over the Easter weekend, with authorities making arrests across the continent as national governments continue to battle the coronavirus with varying degrees of success.

South America remains a hotspot for Covid-19 – with high mortality rates in Brazil, Peru, Chile and Paraguay of particular cause for concern – though the recent unlicensed live events suggest some people are beginning to chafe under ongoing restrictions on indoor gatherings.

In the town of Turuku, in Ecuador’s northern Imbabura province, local government officials, national police and the armed forces shut down an unlicensed music festival, Killary Fest, which would have been attended by an estimated 5,000 people.

Despite dismantling the stage and confiscating much of Killary Fest’s equipment, including speakers, authorities returned on the evening of Friday 2 April to “learn that, despite the warnings, the party was starting”, reports El Comercio. When they again moved to shut down the event, police and soldiers were pelted with sticks and stones by revellers.

The incident follows months of parties, concerts and other unlawful events in Ecuador, reports El Comercio.

In Punta Arenas, the southernmost city in Chile, a local election candidate is being held by police after organising a concert in a former hospital, attended by around 100 people.

Brazilian police continue to target illegal parties, which are being blamed for the surge in Covid-19 cases and deaths

In addition to not seeking permission for the event, Juan Pablo Martinez – who is standing in upcoming city council elections – failed to enforce mandatory social distancing and mask wearing at the clandestine concert, according to prosecutor Rina Blanco.

The show “endangered public health, given the number of people in close contact, and who he invited,” Blanco comments.

A music venue in Morón, near Buenos Aires in Argentina, has been shut down for 30 days after video emerged of cumbia singer Pablo Lescano playing to a non-socially distanced audience.

The event, which many have dubbed “el recital covid” (the Covid concert), was harshly criticised by the mayor of Morón, Lucas Ghi, who says organiser Vaprisana “worship[s] mischief, deception and the violation in rules” – comparing the club unfavourably to the honest businesspeople of the city, who “adhere to the norms and protocols required by the pandemic”.

Brazilian police also continue to target illegal parties, which are being blamed for the surge in Covid-19 cases and deaths in South America’s most populous country.

The most recent brought together around 100 people – half of whom were caught not wearing face masks – in the city of Sao Paolo last weekend. According to local press, the three organisers were arrested, while the venue was fined R$190,000 (€28,000).

 


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Brazilian singer arrested after unlicensed show

A popular Brazilian singer has been arrested after playing an unlicensed, non-socially distanced concert in a school last week.

Samba star Marcelo Pires Vieira, known as Belo (‘Beautiful’), was apprehended by Brazil’s Civil Police yesterday (17 February) following the 12 February show, described by news agency EFE as a “massive concert” at a state school in Parque Uniao, a favela in the north of the city.

According to police, the show took place both without authorisation and without any preventative measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19, including mask wearing.

All Carnival events, parties and concerts are banned this year to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in Rio de Janeiro.

The show “could only have taken place with the authorisation of the head of the gang which controls drug trafficking”

In addition to the obvious breaches of coronavirus restrictions, officers suspect the concert, held on the first night of the Rio Carnival, was organised and financed by drug traffickers operating out of the favela (slum) where it took place.

Footage from the concert, filmed by both attendees and news helicopters, was broadcast on Brazilian television, showing a large crowd at the school.

Gustavo de Mello de Castro, head of the Civil Police’s drug commissariat, ordered the arrest of four people, including Belo. According to a police statement, the show “could only have taken place with the authorisation of the head of the gang which controls drug trafficking in the region,” Luiz Moura Bargosa, who is also subject to an arrest warrant.

A statement from Belo’s publicist says the singer was hired by a production company which had promised to fulfil all health and safety protocols and secure permission to hold the event.

 


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Millions expected to attend illegal parties on NYE

More than 5,000 unlawful parties are expected to take place in the UK over the new year weekend, the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) has warned.

The association, which represents more than 100 nightclubs, bars and music venues, says there is a risk of “millions of people converging across the UK” from 31 December–3 January, sparking fears of a fresh coronavirus outbreak in January.

The situation, it says, is exacerbated by the ongoing closure of most night-time businesses, which “would normally manage huge crowds of people through the new year’s celebrations”.

Illegal raves have been on the increase across Europe since the summer as frustration builds over coronavirus restrictions preventing legal gatherings.

“There is a growing concern that new year’s eve is going to culminate in social unrest”

“There is a growing concern that new year’s eve is going to culminate in social unrest and will see a substantial number of illegal parties and mass gatherings following the closure of businesses at 11pm, with a real risk of overwhelming the police and emergency services,” comments Michael Kill, CEO of the NTIA.

“We are estimating that the UK will be witness to over 5,000 illegal parties across new year’s eve weekend. The government needs to consider ways in which to manage this grave situation – people will want to celebrate the end of 2020 in their own way, so ignoring the issue will not resolve what will be a significant car crash in every sense of the term.”

Parklife promoter and Manchester night czar Sacha Lord adds: “The closure of hospitality venues in tier three, combined with the 11pm curfew elsewhere, only serves to encourage house parties and outdoor gatherings, and it’s inevitable we will see an increase of these on new year’s eve.

“I urge all those considering hosting or attending a gathering to think about those around them who may be vulnerable to Covid-19, and to put their health and safety first.”

 


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First £10k penalties issued for illegal parties

The first fines have been issued in England under tough new measures designed to deter would-be organisers of illegal raves.

The British home secretary, Priti Patel, announced last week that anyone who organises an illegal rave, unlicensed music event or any other “unlawful” gathering of more than 30 people could be liable for a fine of £10,000.

In London, the Metropolitan Police says it broke up 21 unlicensed music events (‘UMEs’) on Saturday 29 August alone.

One raid, in Dace Road, Hackney, saw officers take “details of four individuals, who have been reported for consideration under the new legislation”, says the Met’s Commander Bas Javid. “Enquiries into this event are ongoing.”

A number of arrests were also made at an anti-lockdown protest in central London, with protester Piers Corbyn – brother of former Labour party leader Jeremy – notably hit with the maximum penalty of £10,000.

A total of 11 £10,000 fines were handed out last weekend

“One individual has been reported under the new legislation, and a fixed penalty notice [will] be issued for £10,000 for the offence of holding a gathering of more than 30 people in an outdoor public place,” adds Javid.

According to Sky News, a total of 11 £10,000 fines were handed out last weekend.

They include penalties issued to the organisers of an illegal rave in Banwen, south Wales, which was attended by 3,000 people, and a number of parties in West Yorkshire.

Another (licensed) music event in Leeds was shut down for not adhering to government guidelines on social distancing.

Also hosting UMEs over the weekend were Norfolk’s Thetford Forest, when an unlawful rave was attended by over 500 people, and Harlow, Essex, where authorities seized “thousands of pounds” worth of sound equipment just prior to the event’s start.

 


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UK braces for long weekend of illegal events

Police, local authorities and industry associations have warned would-be party promoters against organising illegal gatherings in the UK this long weekend, after the government announced tougher fines for those found to be facilitating “the most serious breaches of social distancing restrictions”.

Britain’s home secretary, Priti Patel, announced earlier this week that anyone who organises an illegal rave, unlicensed music event or any other “unlawful” gathering of more than 30 people could be liable for a fine of £10,000.

Those who attend said events could also be punished with a fine of £100 for each violation, Patel (pictured) said.

“To the organisers of this sort of activity, I strongly advise that you seriously consider the risks you’re creating for everyone in attendance and the wider community,” says Commander Ade Adelekan, the National Police Chiefs’ Council’s lead for unlicensed music events.

Illegal raves have been on the increase in the UK in recent months amid the continuing shutdown of live entertainment, with unlicensed events also reported in France and elsewhere in continental Europe.

In London alone, the Metropolitan Police has responded to more than 1,000 unlicensed events since the end of June, receiving information on more than 200 events across the city in a single weekend, according to the Home Office.

“The government must consider safe options to allow the night-time economy and events sector to reopen”

There are fears the three-day weekend (Monday 31 August is a public holiday in the UK) could see an escalation in the number of illicit events, with councils across the country warning people against organising or attending illegal mass gatherings.

Michael Kill, CEO of the Night-Time Industries Association, says a spike in unlicensed parties over the bank holiday weekend will “escalate an already increasing number of unregulated and unsafe events placing young people at risk”.

“Small house parties and raves have been bubbling under the surface of society for many years now – but lockdown has intensified this, with young people searching for alternatives to late-night venues as they struggle to cope with continuing restrictions on their lives due to the pandemic,” he comments.

“Bank holidays present a particular challenge, but given the imminent reintroduction of student communities to university cities, and restrictions on the reopening of nightclubs and venues, we are concerned that the freshers’ period will result in an eruption of illegal house parties and gatherings. This will create challenging times for police forces up and down the country.”

He continues: “As the night-time economy and events sector is unable to reopen to provide safe spaces for young people to express themselves, DIY alternatives are being organised which are unregulated and may compromise young people’s safety. Previous illegal events have resulted in several serious incidents, but have continued to grow in popularity over the last few months.

“Thousands of businesses remain closed and struggle to survive and protect the livelihoods of their staff while unsafe illegal events continue. The government must consider safe options to allow the night-time economy and events sector to reopen to help combat the rise in illegal parties and raves across the country.”+

 


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UK music sector reacts to newly permitted events

Socially distanced live indoor performances will be able to resume in England from Saturday, as the government eases lockdown measures.

The relaxed measures signal Stage 4 of the government’s five-stage roadmap for the return of live performance, which was announced on 17 July and delayed from 1 August until tomorrow.

Though the date for reopening will bring some relief to the UK’s music sector, a number of industry bodies have expressed scepticism about the economic viability of live music returning.

“Unfortunately, it remains the case that the vast majority of grassroots music venue members of the Music Venues Alliance are not financially able, or even have an appropriate layout in the physical premises, to deliver these newly permitted events,” says Mark Davyd from the UK’s Music Venue Trust.

“Those that can make social distancing work will be unlikely to be able to stage government compliant events with this much notice but will be relieved to finally be able to open their doors in the coming weeks.

“However, despite the challenges the announcement presents, we broadly welcome this progress towards the return of live music. If gigs are going to return in stages, which is the government plan, then we have reached Stage 4 of that plan and can begin to imagine that Stage 5, real gigs at venues, might be achievable in the foreseeable future,” concludes Davyd.

“It remains extraordinarily difficult to resume events and gigs in an economically viable way”

Michael Kill, CEO of Night Time Industries Association says: “While we welcome the government’s announcement of the further easing of lockdown measures, this is still a long way off being back to normal for many businesses in the night time economy and events sector.”

“While some bars and restaurants have been able to open with a limited capacity, many are only just breaking even and we expect live music venues and performance spaces to have similar issues with viability, only able to accommodate for limited numbers under the current government social distancing measures.

“We still have many questions with regard to the operational conditions for opening these businesses, but would urge the government to consider a more robust communication strategy with a realistic timeframe to allow businesses the opportunity to prepare for opening,” says Kill.

Acting CEO of campaigning and lobbying group UK Music, Tom Kiehl, says: “Further easing of lockdown for live performance is a symbolic moment, yet it remains extraordinarily difficult to resume events and gigs in an economically viable way.”

“The government must ensure support measures for all aspects of the sector – including venues, festivals, musicians, performers and crew – are in place while many individuals and businesses in the sector still cannot get back to work.”

“We still have many questions with regard to the operational conditions for opening these businesses”

The UK’s live music sector has organised a number of campaigns, including #LetTheMusicPlay and #WeMakeEvents, which called for government support in various areas of the industry.

Though the initiatives were successful in prompting the government to unveil a £1.57bn package of grants and loans for music and arts organisations, the industry needs more government support to sustain the live industry’s broader ecosystem.

Industry bodies are calling for a multi-year extension of the cultural VAT rate reduction beyond January in line with DCMS’s recent recommendations and a government-backed reinsurance scheme to allow shows to go ahead.

Also as part of this weekend’s easing of lockdown, the government is enforcing tougher measures including a clampdown on illegal gatherings of more than 30 people, which could see those responsible hit with spot fines of up to £10,000.

The government’s previous restrictions on concerts were met with a rise in Britons attending illegal, non-socially distanced “quarantine raves” in woodland near cities including ManchesterLeedsLiverpoolOxford and Lichfield, Staffordshire.

 


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