New York, NY (November 2, 2020)—Numerous illegal large-scale Halloween events were broken up by police around the country this weekend, putting event organizers and production companies under scrutiny in their wake. In particular, two high-profile events grabbed headlines—a reputed “Protest on Halloween” bash outside Utah Lake, UT attracted a reported 10,000 people, while across the country in New York City, the NYC Sheriff’s Department broke up an illegal party, held in a sound company’s warehouse, that attracted more than 550 people.
With COVID-19 infections on a dramatic upswing in recent weeks, large-scale gatherings remain prohibited around the country, but that did not deter organizers or attendees, it appears. Event companies The Tribe Utah (Provo, UT) and Utah Tonight originally planned a party, The Protest on Halloween, in an outdoor area called The Knolls, that would feature four DJs and considerable production, according to FOX13 Salt Lake City. The event was officially called off early last week, but was ultimately held anyway, following an online email blast to more than 300 people. Videos of the event show jam-packed crowds, with many revelers shunning masks. Eventually police were called in when a woman was injured and later hospitalized from a fall while crowd surfing; dispersing the crowd in turn led to a number of car accidents.
Event organizers told the Salt Lake Tribune that The Tribe Utah and Utah Tonight were not responsible for the party, that no money changed hands, and that it was instead held by individuals associated with the two promoters, even though both organizations posted videos of the event to their respective Instagram pages. Utah Tonight later used its Instagram page to tell attendees to not get tested for COVID-19 after the event, stating in part, “Getting tested simply provides the mob with more ammunition to control our lives.”
Meanwhile, in New York City, deputy sheriffs shut down an illegal warehouse party that was held on the premises of AVS Production Group at 1420 Seabury Avenue in the Bronx. The event was packed with 557-plus people who did not socially distance or, in many cases, wear masks. The party was held in violation of Coronavirus emergency orders and additionally did not have a liquor license. In all, 20 organizers and one company—AVS—were charged with multiple misdemeanors, including administrative code, health code and ABC law offenses.
The organized event sported full lighting and decorations, two DJ booths and a sizable bar, along with a food truck and portable toilets in the warehouse’s loading docks. Sheriffs observed more than 150 costumed people enter the warehouse before intervening.
According to authorities, the party resulted in a minimum of $105,000 in fines—15 people were fined $1,000 each for health code violations and issued court appearance tickets, while five other people and AVS were each fined $15,000. AVS was additionally written up for violating state liquor laws by running an unlicensed bottle club and warehousing liquor. The New York Times reported that an individual representing AVS said the building had been rented out for a virtual event and that the company found out about the party after the fact.