“I started getting suffocated. There was pushing at me from the back and from the side I could not move I was going to get crushed. I was terrified that I was going to go under and there were the street railings at my back. I was scared that if the crowd pushed me against the rails my back would snap”. Isioma Daniel gives eyewitness account.
As tributes flood in for the mother-of-two Rebecca Ikumelo, who died following a crowd crush at the O2 Academy in Brixton. According to reports the crush was because of by non- ticket holders, a different story is beginning to emerge from ticket holders who say like Daniel that story is just not true. (Main image Isioma Daniel)
Rebecca Ikumelo, 33, from Newham, east London, died in hospital after being critically injured in the crush which unfolded during artist Asake’s concert on Thursday.
Police are still gathering information to ascertain what happened at the concert which has now left one person dead and several still in critical care.
It is being widely reported that 1000 plus people turned up without tickets and stampeded the venue. But a different story is beginning to emerge from ticket holders like Isioma Daniel a 41-year-old Marketer from West London who according to her, she was told to go round the back of the venue and the front entrance was closed off for entry by 7:40pm when she arrived with her tickets and when she went to the back there was a lack of security or clarity as to why she was there. ALT NEWS spoke to Daniel who was still clearly very shaken and distraught from the tragic experience.
Daniel says she paid £56.96 for her ticket which she got from #Cokobar. Tickets for the event were from around £30 to £60. She said, “that is why people were not leaving as they had paid so much for their tickets”. Daniel is referring to the amount of people who had started to form in an orderly crowd outside in the back alley which contradicts the story that is being told on the main news stations about what happened was driven by non-ticket holders.
According to Daniel this is what happened. She had bought her ticket in September, and on the day of the concert the doors were meant to open at 7pm but she had an office Xmas party and arrived at 7:40pm at Brixton Academy. when she got to the venue she said.
“Brixton Academy looked like it was set up for people to enter at the front which was normal but strangely I was sent to go round the back.
The barriers were at the front and there were 5 to 7 security staff upfront. I was confused and looking at how to get my ticket scanned but there was no people in a queue at the front of the venue and then a security said no one is coming through the front. They had locked off the front for ticket processing already just 40 minutes after the door opening time it appeared”.
She continued to say.
I was told to walk down the road and into a back alleyway, which I had not experienced before when I had been to the Brixton Academy. I did not know for a while who was in the queue or who was just hanging out as there was not any signposting, there was not any security. When I established what the queue was people were queuing orderly, they were just trying to get into the concert as they had tickets. I didn’t have the experience being communicated by the organiser or the venue.
There were no barricades in the back area or security, it was a completely different set up to the front, the front was official. Here there was no one except two staff members at the front who were supposedly meant to process tickets for a crowd of people. Already from there it felt off, something was not right. They were not treating us like normal concert goers. Why did they send us to the back street? Here cars were on one side of us, and a wall was to the right of us, so we were already being compressed into this area. And a crowd was forming around us on the pavement, on the main road and the top of the queue.
The queue was moving very slowly by 8:45pm I had not noticed a queue had been forming behind me going right back round to the front. Then as there were no barriers or security here, people had started walking up to the front of this queue waving their tickets on their mobile phones. Then I could see just two people had emerged who looked like security. People were now standing there agitated as some had been in the queue for nearly two hours. So, what was going on?
So, at this the point no one is being let in despite being told that we should have our phones ready, and the crowd was building up even more now at the back of the Academy. I am not sure who the people were who had boycotted the queue and made their way to the front. But someone who had been at the front later told me one or two people had been let in while ticket holders like myself respectfully stayed in the queue despite the time. Suddenly with that happening up front a crowd surge started.
I started getting suffocated. There was pushing at me from the back and from the side if I didn’t move with the crowd, I was going to get crushed.
The crowd surged into the entrance where we were met with metal detectors and sniffer dogs. So, for whatever reason the venue had just two people processing tickets in this back alley where they appear to have sent hundreds of people but did not have enough people to process tickets but had sniffer dogs?
By the time the crowd surged onto the steps of the Academy there were street rails at my back. I tried to create space for myself with my elbows and stay on the edge against the rails but I was scared that if they pushed me against the rails my back would snap.. There were thousands of ticket holders, and this is what Black Protest Legal is trying to find out. Did the venue get to capacity by a certain time, so they locked the doors?
I personally think it was possibly already at capacity when I arrived at 7:40pm which makes me ask why did they send us to the back? How could that happen we were so naively standing in queue and were not going to get in. I personally believe they oversold the tickets, I need our people to come forward, say what time did they get there, when did people get in and how did they get in. What was it like on the inside? What was it like on the outside?
The crush started around 8:40pm and continued till 9.30 pm. People climbed the steps thinking they would still get in. No one from the Academy came out to speak to us. The venue and the organisers have a lot of questions to answer. Like many ticket holders who attended at a decent time she wants answers to her questions, how did what should have been a very good night out turn into such a tragic and traumatic experience. Another unnamed witness claims racial profiling was part of the agenda.
If you have an account of this event and were inside the venue, please speak to our news team. Email editor @ alt – africa. com.
ALT NEWS extends it condolences to all the friends and family of Rebecca Ikumelo, 33, from Newham, who died in hospital on December 17th after being critically injured in the crush.
Since writing this Gaby Hutchinson 23-year-old, from Gravesend in Kent, died in hospital on Monday again we send a heartfelt condolences.