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‘Idiots’ copping BW fallout

THE blame for a fracas at BW Summer Festival campground on New Year’s Eve has fallen largely on the “handful of idiots” who started it, with Gisborne people speaking out to support festival organisers and the police.

Sixty-three people were arrested and more than 80 suffered mostly minor injuries during the early-evening incident, when fences and camping gear were set alight and drunk youths hurled full cans of alcohol.

But while questions have been raised about the wisdom of allowing nearly 8000 young people to take their own alcohol on-site, most social media responses to The Gisborne Herald have been supportive of the BW team.

“You can’t expect organisers to know who the troublemakers are beforehand, and out of all those thousands of people I don’t think they do too bad,” one writer said.

“It’s not their fault that a few dickheads want to come to town and spoil it for everyone else.”

“No matter what the organisers do, there will always be people who want to wreck things,” said another.

“Let it be remembered that thousands of other people had a fantastic time here in Gisborne surf city.”

One “small incident” should not be allowed to scupper the BW and Rhythm and Vines festivals, another writer said.

“People come from a long way to enjoy themselves and spend those millions ?. . . we should not let a few clowns give the naysayers a chance to try to stop the events. BW owes no one an apology. The dickheads who started it are the ones who should be saying sorry.”

One writer suggested that the culprits be blacklisted from future events, and BW founder Toby Burrows is confident they will be able to identify who they are.

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The campgrounds are already well covered with CCTV cameras for the safety and security of campers, Mr Burrows says.

“So we have loads of footage from those, and from police cameras and camper footage. Police will work through the footage identifying those involved and prosecuting them.

“If you were involved, there is a good chance we have footage of you and you will be held accountable.”

Police are keen for even more footage to help with their investigations and are appealing for anyone who shot video footage during the incident to send it to them (intel.eastern@police.govt.nz).

“Our investigations into the incident are continuing and it does not stop when people have been arrested,” says Senior Sergeant Steve Sutherland

“We want to see as much footage as possible so we can identify those who took an active part. It would be very helpful for our investigation to gather as much information as we can and we hope those who hold that information will be able to assist us.”

Some of those arrested received formal warnings, while others are facing a variety of charges including disorderly behaviour, assault and assault with a weapon. Most have been summonsed to appear in the Gisborne District Court on January 18 and 19.

Mr Burrows has made a point of thanking those who “came and behaved themselves this New Year in Gisborne”.

“There were so many highlights to the week and unfortunately they are being overshadowed by the idiotic and dangerous behaviour of some,” he says.

“So much planning and investment goes into this event with the aim to entertain, and also to ensure everyone is well looked after and returns home safely.

“It is hugely disappointing that some people think the behaviour demonstrated is fun, funny or acceptable on any level.

“This idiotic behaviour puts other campers and festival staff at risk. It also puts the future of events like this at risk.”