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Published: Monday, 7/16/2001

Police pull plug on Posse as faithful mob the stage

A series of concerts that drew thousands of face-painted, pop-spilling faithful to Toledo ended abruptly last night when authorities, responding to hundreds of fans storming the stage, stopped the final concert at the SeaGate Convention Centre.

The ensuing chaos left dozens of extra police officers, sheriff's deputies, and firefighters trying to restore order as thousands of angry fans filed out .

Officials said they stopped the performance by Insane Clown Posse - the headliner of The Gathering of the Juggalos 2001 Convention - because of safety concerns. The rap duo had played fewer than 10 songs when the concert was cut short.

Much of the band's equipment was destroyed by fans.

“A few stupid people ruined it for everybody,” said Doug Ramsey, 23, of New York City.

Whether the group, which holds the three-day series of concerts annually, will be welcomed back is unclear.

“I'll have to evaluate that,” Jim Donnelly, president and chief executive officer of the convention center, said.

After the concert, fans milled outside the convention center before dispersing. Police had to close parts of Monroe, Summit, and Jefferson streets to accommodate the crowds.

But as hot as the tempers became inside, they subsided quickly, police said. Authorities said they received only a few reports of damage and injuries.

The spirited finale tempered enthusiasm that the Gathering had brought to town.

While local officials worried about controlling the crowds, thousands had basked in the commercially savvy, anti-establishment sub-culture spearheaded by marketing masterminds Psychopathic Records, ICP's private record label.

“This Gathering is all about merchandise this year,” said Shelby Haines, 18, of Kalamazoo, Mich., who was wearing a new $100 “Juggalette” jersey.

While Psychopathic Records peddled several hundred different products, local businesses profited as well.

“We're probably up a good 10, 15 percent in sales,” said Kathy Vaughn, manager of the Big Boy at 175 South Summit St. The restaurant did not add extra staff, although Ms. Vaughn said business has been steady throughout the weekend. She received no advance notice of the ICP event.

“The only thing that we knew was what we read in the paper,” Ms. Vaughn said.

Banana Joe's Island Party, 505 Jefferson Ave., enjoyed a 30 percent increase in nightclub revenues over the weekend, and opened yesterday despite usually closing on Sunday, manager Joe Welker said.

Employees of downtown businesses said the Juggalos were polite and friendly.

“You can't alienate a group if they dress a little weird and they like to throw pop on each other,” Mr. Welker said.

People shouldn't be so critical of the event, said Dennis Williams, overseer of the Commodore Perry Apartments parking lot on Superior Street.

“I had my reservations at first, but I think this was very good for downtown,” Mr. Williams said. “We can clean up the pop.”

“I've had a lot of kids say to me `I hope you can look past our appearance because we're not bad kids,” Mr. Williams said. “I've talked to a lot of friendly kids.”

Most Juggalos said the Gathering was everything they had hoped for. “To me, being around Juggalos is perfect,” said Melanie Kolesar, 18, of Lorain, Ohio.

The city, however, was not viewed as a very gracious host.

“I understand they need police, but they just harassed us,” said 18-year-old Travis Schmid of Kalamazoo. “I give this city two thumbs down.”

Mayor Carty Finkbeiner has said that he wants the convention center to pick up overtime costs to clean the city and pay for law enforcement costs.

Sidewalks will be hosed down tonight and power-washed tomorrow, Mr. Donnelly said.

But welcome or not, the Juggalos won't be back next year: It was announced that ICP is taking the Gathering to Las Vegas.



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