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- This is unfounded. Officials are still investigating the surge of fans at the Houston music festival that left eight people dead and dozens more hospitalized with injuries, but crowd control was a concern before the event.
In the hours since news broke that eight people were killed and dozens more hospitalized after sustaining injuries amid mayhem at the Astroworld Festival in Houston on Nov. 5, the city’s paper of record has aggressively reported and written about the tragedy: how rapper Travis Scott kept performing for 37 minutes as a ‘mass casualty’ unfolded, whether the festival followed its own plan for mass casualty events, and how the whole thing unfolded.
The Houston Chronicle’s coverage does not mention the devil. But an unfounded conspiracy theory is spreading online that says the deaths that night were part of a satanic ritual.
"The concert last night was a straight up satanic ritual and Scott didn’t even stop playing as people were dying and chaos broke out," one Facebook post claimed.
"8 people were killed at Travis Scott Astroworld Satanic concert," another post said.
This post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)
The conspiracy theory has gained traction among some people on TikTok and believers of the QAnon movement, the Daily Beast reported.
But it has no credible basis. The Chronicle reported that while much is still unknown, police and fire officials said a massive crowd started surging toward the stage around 9 p.m. leaving some panicked, struggling to breathe or underfoot, after they fell.
Houston Police Chief Troy Finner said "a criminal investigation" into the incident is underway. Live Nation, which produced the festival, has a history of safety violations, according to the Chronicle, and has previously been sued over injuries at previous events.
Houston officials and concert organizers also anticipated that the crowd could be difficult to control, the New York Times reported. They added dozens more Houston police officers and private security hired by Live Nation.
Experts who have studied deaths caused by crowd surges found they often happen when too many people are in too small a space, according to the Associated Press.
"When a crowd surges, the force can be strong enough to bend steel," the AP said. "It can also hit people from two directions: one from the rear of the crowd pushing forward and another from the front of the crowd trying to escape. If some people have fallen, causing a pileup, pressure can even come from above. Caught in the middle are people’s lungs"
Like the Houston Chronicle, the AP and the Times — or any other credible news organization — didn’t report on any evidence of a satanic ritual at Astroworld. The only such news coverage explores how this narrative has emerged. But as officials are investigating and assigning blame for what happened over the weekend, a popular rapper executing a death rite in front of 50,000 fans doesn’t register in reality.
On Nov. 6, Scott tweeted that he was "devastated" by what took place on Nov. 5. A Houston native, Scott launched the festival in 2018 and named it for his album "Astroworld." He has been known to weave religious themes into his work, including collaborating with Kanye West on Christian rap.
"My prayers go out to the families and all those impacted by what happened at Astroworld Festival," Scott said in his statement.
We rate this post Pants on Fire.
Facebook post, Nov. 7, 2021
Facebook post, Nov. 7, 2021
Houston Chronicle, ‘It could have been me’: How the tragedy at Astroworld Festival unfolded, Nov. 7, 2021
The New York Times, Houston officials worried about crowd control before Travis Scott took the stage, Nov. 7, 2021
The Daily Beast, TikTok and QAnon panic over ‘satanism’ conspiracies at deadly Travis Scott concert, Nov. 8, 2021
Travis Scott tweet, Nov. 6, 2021
Genius, Travis Scott speaks on "Wash Us In The Blood" and what religion in hip-hop means to him, Sept. 15, 2020
The Associated Press, Mourning starts as Houston officials probe concert, Nov. 7, 2021
The Associated Press, EXPLAINER: Here is why crowd surges can kill people, Nov. 6, 2021
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