After the shock of hearing that The Love Parade had claimed its 21st victim a report on the disaster and a tribute to those affected felt essential.

Doubling as a peace march and an extravagant birthday party for local DJ Dr Motte, The Love Parade began in Berlin in 1989. When the Wall fell later that year the event summarised the jubilant mood and gathered momentum in the following years, attracting 300,000 techno lovers at the 1995 event.  By 2003 that number had grown to a million and organisers were forced to cancel subsequent events after they were unable to pay for the immense cleanup operation. In 2006 The Love Parade was resurrected in Duisberg a city of 500,000 near Dusseldorf and its reputation as a loved up party continued to be heralded.

The Love Parade tragedy is regrettably another incident out of many where the safety of audience members was sacrificed for profit and for a festival that has its origins in celebrating peace and unity it is heartbreaking that 21 people who went to the event to enjoy themselves didn’t make it home and over 500 were hospitalised. Accusations of culpability are flying back and forth between the festival organisers, police, city officials and the attendees and the family and friends of those who lost their lives may never know why the tragedy occurred. News reports suggest that the festival organisers severely underestimated the numbers and city officials ignored the risks, seeing the event as a cash cow. Although the estimates vary it appears that close to 1.5 million people flocked to a 250,000 capacity event based in a disused train station where a tunnel served as the only entrance and exit. Hopefully time will resolve the most important questions that have arisen: why were the entrance gates closed at 5pm, leaving thousands in the tunnel trapped in an bottleneck and why were the police so ineffectual at anticipating this hazard and controlling the anxious crowd?

Unsettling videos have surfaced of festival stewards and singular police officers desperately rescuing those trapped and fights breaking out among the chaos. The shoves, kicks and punches exacerbated a frantic situation and created a snowball effect that led to the horrific, deadly stampede.

The organisers have since announced that, out of respect for the victims and their families, this will be the last Love Parade and as the electronic music world looks to Duisberg and those accountable for answers and apologies it is more than ever the responsibility of festival organisers and police worldwide to learn from this and ensure it never happens again.

My condolences are with the victims’ families and friends.

Vier

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