Hot 97 Summer Jam 2023 is facing a major legal hurdle just days before it is due to take place, with a complaint seeking to shut down the festival’s outdoor stage.
The annual Hip Hop festival is being held at the UBS Arena in Elmont, New York on Sunday (June 4), which marks its first time at the indoor venue after a decade-long stint at New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium.
But officials in Nassau County, New York aren’t too happy about it, and filed a request on Thursday (June 1) for a temporary restraining order against the Festival Village — the free, outdoor portion of the festival.
In the complaint, Nassau County raised concerns about the safety of Summer Jam, claiming it’s a public nuisance and poses a risk of “irreparable harm” to attendees, police officers working the event and the surrounding areas alike.
It argued that the festival’s expected 20,000 capacity will likely cause over-crowding issues and that Summer Jam has a history of violent and criminal incidents, citing the stampede that broke out in 2015.
“In light of the facts and data listed above, it is my professional opinion that the event poses a clear safety risk to the public planning to attend the event, as well as the communities surrounding the venue,” Joseph V. Barbieri, Assistant Chief with the Nassau County Police Department, said in the filing.
Higher-ups at MediaCo Holding, Inc. — the parent company of Hot 97 and a defendant in the complaint — however, believe the TRO request is an attack on the festival and Hip Hop as whole, as well as political posturing.
They point out that Nassau County has known about the event since April 7 and strategically filed the request just three days before, knowing that a preliminary injunction may be granted without a hearing, leaving organizers unable to respond in time.
“We are working with Nassau County and hope to get it resolved quickly and amicably,” Rahsan-Rahsan Lindsay, CEO of MediaCo Holding, Inc., told HipHopDX in a statement.
The complaint continues a recent trend of legal action taken against Hip Hop festivals in the tri-state area. In 2019, multiple NYC rappers — including Casanova, Sheff G and the late Pop Smoke — were removed from the Rolling Loud New York lineup at the request of the NYPD.
In a letter sent to festival organizers just days before the event took place, the department cited “public safety concerns” stemming from the artists’ alleged affiliations with “recent acts of violence citywide.”
After a number of other artists were pulled from the festival under similar circumstances last year, Rolling Loud New York 2023 was canceled altogether due to “logistical factors.”