The families of those who died during Travis Scott’s Astroworld concert in November 2021 have accused the rapper of violating Judge Kristen Hawkins’ gag order with his announcement of Project HEAL earlier this month.
The victims’ families have raised concerns that Scott’s initiative was in violation of the court order which bars him from disclosing or discussing events related to the ongoing case.
Announcing his “multi-tier initiative dedicated to addressing challenges facing today’s youth” via Instagram, Scott wrote, “My team and I created Project HEAL to take much needed action towards supporting real solutions that make all events the safest spaces they can possibly be. I will always honour the victims of the Astroworld tragedy who remain in my heart forever.” Aside from technology-driven solutions for event safety, the initiative also aims to provide academic scholarships, free mental health resources, and other services.
At a hearing of the Astroworld lawsuits on Monday, an attorney representing the family of 9-year-old Ezra Blount, the youngest victim of the tragedy, accused Scott of using the influence of his social media presence to address concert safety, one of the issues being debated in the lawsuits.
However, Scott’s attorney responded that charitable acts have “been a constant in his life” and “to suggest somehow that speaking about those charitable initiatives runs afoul of the publicity order is certainly not something that would withstand scrutiny.”
Scott’s attorney went on to point out that project HEAL also included academic scholarships, which did not violate the gag order, and argued that preventing Scott from speaking out about this could potentially be a violation of his right of free expression.
The rapper’s Astroworld concert was held on November 5 and saw a turnout of 50,000 people. A crowd surge at the event led to a stampede that crushed attendees. The incident left 10 dead, eight of whom succumbed the same night, and multiple people were injured as well. Indian-American student Bharti Shahani was one of the victims. She died on November 11 of injuries sustained at the event.
Both Scott and the organisers Live Nation have been slammed with hundreds of lawsuits alleging negligence and misconduct. These are being heard by State District Judge Kristen Hawkins, who previously barred attorneys and representatives from “making their cases in the court of public opinion,” which could potentially influence the jurors.