Health advocates call for scrutiny of performers following 4/20 event at Woodward Park

Local health advocates are calling for change after a Bay Area rapper dubbed Saturday's performance at Woodward Park the 'Fresno Smokeout.'
April 19, 2014 12:00:00 AM PDT
Local health advocates are calling for change after a Bay Area rapper dubbed Saturday's performance at Woodward Park the "Fresno Smokeout."

Police kept a close eye on that controversial concert after concerns about the performer promoting drugs on the Internet.

Health advocates like Alyssa Boyles are fired up after the city of Fresno allowed the Bay Area rapper named "Berner" to hold a concert in the park's amphitheater

"It's a family park how easy for a kid to ride up to this event and maybe get something from someone?" said Alyssa Boyles of the California Health Collaborative.

She became increasingly concerned after images containing pot leaves and quotes like "let's all come together and smoke out the whole park" surfaced on Facebook and Instagram, encouraging members of the crowd to light up in honor of 4/20, a counterculture holiday where people gather to celebrate and consume cannabis.

"For them to allow an event like this especially the day before Easter, when we're going to have a bunch of kids out looking for eggs, you don't know what's going to be leftover from this event," she added.

She said a representative from the organization reached out to police and city council member Lee Brand to alert them to their concerns, but Brand said as long as the promoter doesn't break any laws or park policies the show can go on.

"If they do it within the rules, there's a certain decibel level you can't exceed, of course you can't bring in alcohol and illegal drugs," said Brand.

Signs banning lighters and drugs were posted outside of the venue and police patted down concertgoers as they entered through the gates.

"They're conducting searches of people going in, making sure there's no weapons or any type of drugs or contraband going in," said Fresno Police Sgt. Carlos Frausto. "I don't know what his platform is, but our platform is to make sure everyone has a good time and doesn't break the law and no one gets hurt."

While some were turned away, police say there were no major incidents.

But Boyles isn't convinced everyone followed the rules and plans to fight for a change in park policy, prohibiting anyone who promotes drugs from performing in the park.

"It was too late to stop this one, but what we're looking to do in the future is put some sort of policy which allows us to keep our family parks drug free," she said.

Brand agreed the city should do a better job in screening applications for events.

"I think there's a lesson here to look a little closer at who we're bringing down there. But this is the first one I can recall in a long time receiving any calls on," he said.


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