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Mayor: Weekend music festival will be city’s first ‘Gun Free Zone’ event

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A weekend music festival at an Indianapolis park will be the city’s first with a “Gun Free Zone,” the mayor’s communications director announced Wednesday night.

WonderRoad Music Festival will be headlined by Weezer on Saturday and Jason Isbell on Sunday. The event includes three stages each night from 1-10 p.m. at Garfield Park. The city park is bordered by East Raymond Street, Shelby Street and East Southern Avenue.

During a Thursday afternoon news conference, the city plans to show “innovative security technology” to create the “Gun Free Zone” at the WonderRoad concerts.

Mayor Joe Hogsett in May first announced his plans to support groups wishing to make events in public places “Gun Free Zones.” It was part of his violence reduction strategy.

A news release from the communications director says the Democrat mayor and others will discuss the “new policy allowing private event hosts or promoters to designate ‘Gun Free Zones’ on leased-out public property during special events, allowing the City to help enforce the rules.”

Other people scheduled to attend the 2 p.m. Thursday news conference at Garfield Park are Democrat Councillor Frank Mascari; Steve Lindecke, chief operating officer of the event production business Elevation Group; Anil Chitkara, founder of Evolv Technology; and Deputy Chief Michael Wolley of Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department.

Evolv Technology is the company that recently signed a contract with Perry Township Schools to install weapons-detection systems at doors to Perry Meridian and Southport high schools by mid-September.

The news conference later confirmed Evolv weapons-detection systems will be used at the music festival.

Tickets remain available for the event. Adult tickets start at $125.02 for Saturday, and $75.80 for Sunday. Weekend adult tickets start at $210.03. Only VIP tickets for Saturday are sold-out.

WonderRoad organizers posted Tuesday that on-site parking is sold-out.

News release

Mayor Joe Hogsett, a Democrat, speaks June 15, 2023, at a news conference at Garfield Park. (Photo Provided/Indianapolis City Government)

“Mayor Joe Hogsett Announces First Use of ‘Gun Free Zone’ Policy

“Pilot from Evolv Technology will help enforce safety at WonderRoad Music Festival

“INDIANAPOLIS – Today Mayor Joe Hogsett joined representatives from the City-County Council, IMPD, the Elevation Group, Evolv Technology, and Indy Parks to announce the first use of a new “Gun Free Zone” policy at WonderRoad Music Festival this weekend.

“On May 25, Mayor Hogsett announced the next phase of his violence reduction strategy, which included a new policy allowing private event hosts or promoters to designate “Gun Free Zones” on leased-out public property during special events and provide City resources to help enforce those rules. The City will release more guidance around use of the policy over the coming weeks.

“‘Last month, as I announced the next phase of the City’s violence reduction strategy, I shared that the City would assist private event hosts interested in creating ‘gun free’ special events on public property,’ said Mayor Joe Hogsett. ‘It wasn’t long before we heard from our first event organizer – WonderRoad. Now, thanks to partners at Evolv, weapons detection technology on hand this weekend will be as unobtrusive as it is effective in creating a safer environment.’

“WonderRoad Music Festival will take place June 17-18 at Garfield Park. The music festival will once again feature three different stages, an array of local, regional and international food, arts/crafts, activities for all ages and a robust artisan vendor village. The music festival is presented in association with the Indianapolis-based, independent concert promoter MOKB Presents. Weezer will headline the music fest on Saturday night preceded earlier in the day by Local Natives, COIN, X Ambassadors, lovelytheband, Beach Weather and more. Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit will close Indianapolis’ music festival on Sunday night following performances by Marcus King, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Tegan and Sara, Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness, Meg Myers and a mix of additional local and national acts.

“‘Elevation Festivals and MOKB Presents and the acts that we book to perform, are committed to staging safe events in secure locations. Toward that end, earlier this year we reached out to Indy Parks and shared our wish that Garfield Park be a gun-free zone on WonderRoad weekend,’ stated Steve Lindecke, Elevation Festivals Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer. ‘To be here today, on the eve of the fest, with Mayor Hogsett and the security team at Evolv, we relish the opportunity to take center stage in the hosting of this gun-free event.’

“Aiding the enforcement of the event will be the piloting of Evolv Express weapons detection systems, which use powerful sensor technology with artificial intelligence to provide an intelligent, free-flow, respectful, and unbiased screening solution that offers more accurate threat detection. Evolv sensors, which screen approximately one million people per day, are currently deployed at over 600 customer venues worldwide, including leading theme parks, sports stadiums, arenas, performing arts centers, industrial workplaces, hospitals, and schools. Additional security will be available on-site, with IMPD also having a significant presence around the large event.

“‘We are pleased to be partnering with the City of Indianapolis this weekend as part of their violence reduction strategy,’ said Anil Chitkara, co-founder of Evolv Technology. ‘At Evolv, we strive to bring new solutions to public safety and venues that can add layers of safety while balancing the needs and rights of the people we are trying to keep safe in a dignified manner.’

“‘As president of the neighborhood association, I am very proud and grateful for the support of Mayor Hogsett, WonderRoad and MOKB to make this event a gun free zone,’ said Haley Bougher, President of Garfield Park Neighbors Association. ‘We believe in creating a welcoming environment where everyone can celebrate music, culture, and community. We’re excited to come together to enjoy the festivities with peace of mind.’

“The next phase of Mayor Hogsett’s violence reduction strategy includes increasing the salary of first-year IMPD officers to $72,000 (an 85% increase over the past eight years), retention bonuses for current officers, and a partnership to designate City criminal attorneys as Special Assistant United States Attorneys to identify, investigate, and prosecute violent crime at the federal level in Marion County. It includes the aggressive deployment of City resources to combat nuisance properties that tolerate or encourage the illegal use of firearms, a new ‘Gun Free Zone’ policy that allows private event organizers to City request assistance enforcing no-gun policies at events on public property, and proposed common-sense gun safety ordinances to go into effect if state preemption is removed. And, it includes positive summer programming for opportunity youth and the ‘I Choose Peace’ community pledge to provide an outlet for residents and organizations to promote peace and reject violence in their neighborhoods.”

News release from Mark Bode, communications director, Office of Mayor Joe Hogsett; email sent 3:10 p.m. June 15, 2023

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