BY ANDERS SMITH LINDALL
Fence-jumping kids are a perennial bane of festival security, but they seem to be stepping up their game at Lollapalooza this year. Yesterday's incidents (photos in the Flickr set embedded here) look like child's play compared to what witnesses said was a coordinated group assault on the barricades along Lake Shore Drive at the northeast corner of Butler Field, shortly before 3 p.m. today.
Concertgoers in the vicinity reported that from 30 to 60 young people scaled the six-foot chain link fence on the east (lake) side of the drive, then crossed traffic and hopped a smaller mesh fence on the divided highway's west (park) side. Rather than trying to climb the next six-foot metal fence they encountered, the group worked together to push it down and swarmed over it. They did the same thing to topple a third fence, finally rushing into the park itself.
The Sun-Times arrived on the scene to find a large number of police, security and medical personnel herding several jumpers toward a waiting police wagon. At least nine individuals--both men and women--were in handcuffs.
Asked whether Lollapalooza has seen a spike in fence-jumping or subsequent arrests this weekend, a festival publicist downplayed the incidents as "the usual tomfoolery."
Update: A top security official who responded to the incident said two security employees were hospitalized with injuries sustained at the hands of gate-crashers. One suffered a concussion when struck by the fence the group overturned. Another was restraining a jumper he apprehended when a second "blindsided" him with a blow to the head.
The official put the number of crashers in the incident at 40. Those caught were turned over to Chicago police, arrested and variously charged with assault, property damage and trespassing. (Most jumpers are simply escorted from festival grounds.)
A third security staffer reportedly required treatment for an arm injury stemming from a separate altercation.