There’s no doubt that East End Block Party ended with a bang, though fortunately not a literal one. However, it was still pretty abrupt and destructive nonetheless. Though the Downtown Santa Ana’s music festival was going along smoothly for the majority of the day, chaos cut the event short when police found an inert grenade on the street near 4th and French. Soon police helicopters hovered over the event as Santa Ana PD started evacuating the area and OC Sheriffs sent in a bomb squad to try to defuse the explosive which they soon concluded to be a dud.
Even though it thankfully never went off, the party that hosted four stages of hip-hop, rock and punk throughout the day was also kept from going off right before hip-hop headliners Hi-Tone and RJ were set to take the main stage.
“It was a really good event, one of the best we’ve put together, I wish we could’ve got the finish that we wanted,” says rapper Kevin Parx who performed right before the incident and was also one of the brand ambassadors for the event. “I think anytime we do events that are just open, we’re in this day and age when nothing is safe. It’s a free open thing, anybody could walk up with anything.”
The helicopters started circling around 7 p.m., but many people in the crowd were still either oblivious or couldn’t hear authorities on their megaphones telling people to disperse. Finally in between sets of music there was some silence and she head police telling everyone to leave.
Finally in between sets of music there was some silence and she head police telling everyone to leave. “That was a red flag, in this day in age you don’t take those things lightly,” says vendor Kirstyn Chambers who had a booth set up near the main stage. “A lot of us vendors were looking at each other like ‘what do we do?’ Because technically we were supposed to be there for another two hours but at that point it was more about my safety.”
Though there seemed to be a fight against the crowd’s right to party towards the end of the night that led to the chaos, it turned out to be the result of a lot ill communication between the event organizers, authorities and the festival goers.
Santa Ana Cpl. Anthony Bertagna told reporters that police with help from Orange County sheriff’s deputies cleared the area and the bomb squad determined the hand grenade had no explosives inside it. No injuries were reported and there were no arrests, Bertagna said.
“It was definitely a really weird experience and I’m sad it had to end that way and it kind of hurt some of the businesses that paid to be there,” Chambers says. She also mentioned that as people ran to their cars to leave the main parking structure on 3rd St. the toll workers were still stopping everyone to collect payments which added to the backup of people trying to flee.
Some argue that once the grenade was found to be inert that the festival should’ve been allowed to continue.
“I don’t feel like the whole thing should’ve been shut down I feel like it could’ve been contained and we could’ve moved forward but maybe somebody didn’t like how hip-hoppity it was getting over there,” Parx says sarcastically. “They had a rock stage and other stages going crazy but for some reason they found this right where the hip-hop was.”
Last night, the event’s founder Tyson Pruong of Konsept Collective issued a statement about the unfortunate end to last weekend’s mostly successful event:
Downtown Santa Ana and coordinators of the East End Block Party wanted to thank everyone who came out to the 5th Annual event on Saturday and apologize for its untimely and early finish. Shout out to OC Weekly’s CJ Simonson for pointing out that Saturday night’s East End Block Party 2018 was going off without a hitch prior to the incident that shut it down. A multitude of people, groups, businesses and local organizations spent countless hours to pull the event off and one person ruined it for everyone. Were glad it was a “false alarm” but especially in today’s current environment better to be safe than sorry. Along those lines also wanted to thank the Santa Ana Police Department and OC Sheriff Department for their quick action to secure the area and make sure the device was safe.
We appreciate your support of the Block Party, East End, Downtown Santa Ana, and Santa Ana as a whole and hope to see you back next year, even bigger and better!
Whether or not the event continues in its current form remains to be seen, though its clear EEBP organizers aren’t going to let a bomb scare blow up the energy they’ve been trying to build behind this community event.