If Protest Breaks Out, OPD Lacks
Resources To Control It, He Says
By JENNIFER HILL • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
ONEONTA – City Hall revoked OH-Fest’s Neahwa Park permit this morning after Mayor Gary Herzig learned on www.AllOTSEGO.com overnight that large numbers of students might protest concert headliner Sean Kingston after learning last week he and his bodyguard were accused of a gang rape in 2010.
The city’s decision throws into doubt whether the Saturday night OH-fest concert will happen at all.
Herzig said he called SUNY President Barbara Jean Morris after SUNY students’ emotionally charged meeting last night, where they discussed whether Kingston should perform.
In the meeting, students did not say they had organized a large protest, but members of the concert’s opening band, Midnight Cartunes, said they planned to tell concertgoers to leave when Kingston came on stage to perform.
“I notified Dr. Morris of my concerns,” Herzig said. “Given the possibility of bad weather and a large number of people protesting at the concert site, we did not feel we could guarantee the safety of everyone there.
Common Council member Russ Southard said he supported the mayor’s decision because the city “could not garner enough security” for the concert if a large number of students protested.
“I’ve always been a supporter of OH-Fest, but things didn’t come together. I think we made a good decision to err on the side of caution,” Southard said.
Herzig said it’s up to SUNY Oneonta’s Student Association, whose 10-student Activities Council organizes the OH-Fest concert, to determine a new location for the concert or whether to cancel it.
As of now, Morris has not yet said anything about the situation.
The city’s press release sent out by the City of Oneonta at approximately 11 a.m. today read as follows:
“City of Oneonta Mayor Gary Herzig has stated that due to recent events which have raised concerns for the safety of all participants at the April 20 scheduled OH Fest concert in Neahwa Park, the City has decided to withdraw the Park Use Permit for that event effectively immediately.”