Earlier this year Community Board 1 was attempting to strong arm the Open Space Alliance into cutting back concerts on Williamsburg's Waterfront this summer. But it didn't happen, and now their worst nightmares have been realized. Over the weekend the jam band Widespread Panic played the outdoor venue, and after the show one local tells us "a lawless drug nightmare erupted" on their block, prompting them to send an open letter to organizers at the Open Space Alliance, which reads, in part:
On Saturday night, September 17, 2011 between approximately 9:40 PM and 10:20 PM the following events took place on North 7th Street off the corner of Kent Avenue in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
A lawless drug nightmare erupted on my street after Saturday night's OSA concert featuring the band called Widespread Panic.
At about 9:40 PM the noise from the concert in the East River State Park had finally ended. So I was about to try to get some video editing work done on my computer when my attention was drawn to loud popping sounds, sounds of gas rushing and the roar of large crowd outside on the street. When I looked out my front window I was horrified to see a huge mob collecting. A group of nitrous oxide balloon sellers had assembled next to a dumpster across the street. Hundreds of people, if not more, were gathering up and down the block buying balloons filled with the gas and inhaling them. Concert-goers already drunk from the East River State Park were becoming even more highly intoxicated from the nitrous oxide. They were wandering around like zombies holding fists full of balloons.
There was not ONE SINGLE COP to be seen anywhere. I called 911 and explained what was taking place. The 911 operator was having difficulty understand the situation so I gave him the location and pleaded, ‘Just send the police now. We need help here!’, and hung up. Afraid for my safety while filming on my stoop, I used my heel to keep the door open behind me just in case I had to escape. In one of the last clips you can see a couple of men coming toward me in a menacing way.
Are you picturing a combination of Reefer Madness, 28 Days Later, Gimme Shelter, and Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video (full length)? If not, do so now and continue reading:
"Desperate to find help, I ran without shoes down to the lone cop who was directing the very chaotic street and pedestrian traffic on Kent Avenue and N. 7th Street. I pleaded with him to send help because a huge mob had grown around the nitrous oxide balloon sellers."
But the cop didn't help, and our protagonist was left alone to fend for him/herself for twenty more minutes, until the FDNY showed up and cleared the unruly mob out. So how bad was it really? If our letter-writer is to be believed, he/she has not seen anything like this before, not even in "the Lower East Side in the 60s, Spanish Harlem in the 70s and the Southside of Williamsburg in the 80s." See for yourself in the videos below, which the 9/17 Survivor tells us "was 100 times worse to experience in person."
We've contacted the OSA for comment, as well as some fans that were in attendance that night, and will update when we hear back. In the meantime, stay safe Williamsburg—who knows how many of these guys are hiding in our sewer system right now just waiting for a drum circle to break out above ground.