AEG/STAPLES CENTER: Stop the arbitrary and brutal treatment of concert patrons.
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AEG, STAPLES CENTER BRUTALITY AT MAROON 5 CONCERT
My name is Michael Catanzarite. On 3/18/13 I had a productive conversation with Jennifer Li, a guest services representative for AEG/Staples Center. The following was the basis of our talk.
On Friday, 3/15/13 my wife, Nelly, and I were honored to be attending the Maroon 5 Concert at The Staples Center in L.A. I had secretly saved money all of 2012 for the chance to surprise my wife with tickets to her all-time favorite band. When the time came in December I was indeed able to secure two tickets for the performance at $300 apiece. A great deal of money for our family of four to afford; we have two small daughters. However, it seemed a pittance for my wife to see her one, true love. (We are very happily married but I know in my heart if Adam Levine proposed to her, I would instantly be relegated to best friend!)
"AND SHE WILL BE LOVED."
Baby sitter in place, the day had finally come and we were on our way to what would surely be the show of a lifetime. My wife was bursting out of her skin in anticipation. The drive from Ventura County was long and we parked at nine thirty in anticipation of a ten start for Maroon 5.
Just as we were making our way to our floor seats, the curtain dropped to the awesome sound of Adam singing "Payphone". The stage was magnificent, the band were dapper in their white outfits, and the show was on! Finally, a bucket list item for my wife was an hour and a half away from being checked off. I took a moment to realize how proud I was to be able to do this for her. I also in that moment remembered how much I really do love her. I thanked God for allowing me to be alive and to have moments like this.
As we were ushered to our floor seats I was so impressed with the make-up of the crowd. For every three adults there seemed to be a child in the current Maroon 5 concert shirt. There were kids everywhere! How cool I thought. How great for the band as well. Their appeal looked to be reaching from six to sixty five. Quite the demographic. It couldn't be happening to a nicer group of musicians.
Our section of the floor were singing every word and all were either standing on their feet or the smaller ones were standing on their chairs to see. No one was sitting; their was too much positive energy flowing!
"DON'T YOU COME AROUND HERE ANYMORE."
A security officer, a Mr. Heredia, began flashing his flashlight at me and pointing to the ground. I believed it to be a request for my wife to get off her seat. Now Nelly is 4' 11" and 90 pounds. She very easily could be mistaken for one of the many kids. I in turn signaled the guard to come over to our seats to get the people in front of us off their chairs. It seemed a fair solution. The obstructing of view needed to be dealt with in an all or none fashion; not in an arbitrary manner. Mr. Heredia left and a mountain of a man, Mr. Hartmark returned. He roughly told me to "Get her down." I said sure, but could you please have the people in front of her get off their chairs too so she may enjoy the show as well. He then left and sent in "the enforcer". A Miss Furgeson came to our seats, passed me, and grabbed my wife in a bear hug. Now, she was a very large woman and it was difficult to even see my wife in her clutches. They pushed passed me and continued off the floor and up the stairs. What was happening, I thought? At this point I followed the mess up the stairs and was confronted by Mr. Hartmark again. He stopped my progress and said "What are you going to do"? It was a clear provocation to try and become involved in some altercation giving reason for my turn at the bear hug. I simply replied "Nothing sir" and made my way around his considerable girth. By the time I reached the lobby I could only see the last of my wife being dragged out of the venue, all the while Miss Fergeson yelling "you're drunk!"
"IT'S NOT OVER TONITE, JUST GIVE ME ONE MORE CHANCE TO MAKE IT RIGHT."
Wow! What had just happened. The opening song was just finishing and my wife was ejected. As I took all this in, Mr. Heredia caught up with me in the lobby and said, "Let's go." I asked, "Where. " He then grabbed by my arm and said, "Outside. We want to talk with you." I have been to many concerts in my lifetime and I know once your taken out you will never be back in again. I asked him if I was being removed from the concert. He replied, "Are you not yielding to our commands?"
Ok, I thought. Here we go. The second bait of me to get involved in an argument and give cause for the inevitable head lock. I then feared for my safety. Why was I being put in this situation? I've paid these people's salaries with all the Kings and Laker tickets I have purchased over the years. I began yelling "Help" and waving my hands to any other security I could get the attention of. As many more came over, an impressive supervisor named James came as well and separated me from the pack and spoke with me one on one.
His was an earnest demeanor and he listened to my story and my pleas. He was sympathetic but said that due to my wives assault on the security officer, she would not be allowed re-entry. I was crushed. I prayed. I cried. What assault? She was the one who was roughed up. Could she apologize to the security officer for any perceived slight? Could she have a second chance? My wife is Mexican and speaks Spanish. Perhaps she didn't understand the securities commands completely. She was only doing what the others in front of her were doing so she could see the show we payed so dearly to see. "No" is what I was told. "There are no second chances. Once a security is touched the patron is expelled." It was made clear to me she was not kicked out for standing on the seat but for the alleged assault on the security. Really? As James and I spoke for thirty minutes, I witnessed numerous drunken male patrons fighting with security as they were thrown out. Most of them later yelled at the police once they were outside. Many were arrested. All this next to my wife who stood crying; looking at me thru the window mouthing, "I'm sorry." My wife was being treated the same way as these trouble makers were. She had nothing to apologize for.
James said if she had trouble seeing, there were eighty five additional seats available for re-seating in just these type cases. There were numerous guards who spoke fluent Spanish that could have translated for my wife if she had a problem understanding the commands. I thanked him for the information, but the actions of the over-zealous Miss Furgeson had not made these options available to my wife. I asked if they had the ability to give a field sobriety or breathalyzer test to my wife to attest to her not being inebriated. James said no, they did not. Then why would security make an unsubstantiated remark so many times in public? Wasn't this already embarrassing enough?
"EVEN THE SUN SETS IN PARADISE."
Alas, no even ground could be found; even with the calm supervisor, James. There was to be no honest explanations; no fairness. No justice for Nelly. I realized I was wasting my time and voluntarily left the lobby to console my wife and start the long, sad trip home. Too embarrassed to explain our mental rape at the hands of the Staples' security team as the reason we were home so early, we made up a lame excuse to the babysitter and paid her what we had booked her for anyway. It seemed fair. The right thing to do.
Trying to make sense of the brutal treatment, I phoned Staples' Guest Services on the next business day and spoke with Miss Li. She had a report that stated my wife was kicked out for pushing one of the security team. What? Who? When? While she was being carried out in a head lock? I explained that at no time was my wife ever a threat to anyone's safety. Look at her and look at them, I pleaded. The report seemed to be made to justify the actions of the involved security. Who are these people, I asked? What is their training? Why are they allowed to wield such force on harmless customers? How can they make accusations of a person being drunk when they are clearly not? How long have they been with the company? Have they had any other instances like these? Have they been reprimanded prior? Are there any instances of roughness against other Mexican-Americans? What are their height and weight compared with my wives? Did they really believe they were in danger from her? Why is there not a policy in place for a "cooling off" for minor offenses?
If the security at Staples Center is to be judge, jury, and executioner for patrons, they should be incredibly well trained in the nuances of human behavior; quickly being able to evaluate a particular situation. Simply put, to be able to separate the baddies from the goodies. I am the first to say that theirs is a very taxing job. But the differences between an apple and an orange must be crystal clear to them. Perhaps a job with constant, excitable interaction with patrons is not suited for their skill set. I would gladly pay more per ticket for a better prepared staff. I sincerely believe we are beyond only requiring the lifting of weights and the eating of food for these types of employees. If Staples' security has the power to crush a girl's dream and leave her neck sore and her heart broken, they should be required to do more than fill out a XX staff shirt. The time for the security goon, painting everyone the same, simple color is over. I have read and re-read the Staples' house rules. They are thorough, but I fail to see where the patron's civil rights are surrendered at the door. I will not stand for it. We should not stand for it!
Shame on you AEG/Staples Center. You are much better than this.
"THE MOVES LIKE JAGGER"
By the way, yes, my wife still loves Adam Levine and Maroon 5. Some things will never change!
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