A Halloween party at Sydney venue Max Watt’s was shut down on Saturday night following a number of drug overdoses, and now the show’s promoters have blamed an “intimidating” police presence.
News Corp Australia reports the Hot Kandi party was due to kick on until 2am on Sunday morning, but was forced to shut down after three people were rushed to hospital and more than 20 people were arrested for drug possession during a drug dog operation.
The Hot Kandi Horror Mansion event was organised by Sydney party-planner Trishy Dishy Karr, who has now spoken out about the overdoses.
“I am really disappointed that the actions of a few have ruined this event for the majority,” Karr says in a statement. “Hot Kandi explicitly warned patrons in days prior that we had a zero-drugs policy and would not tolerate anyone abusing drugs.”
Karr says she was concerned about the actions of police on the night. “When people see intimidating police officers they seem to panic and overdose,” she says. “I am concerned that people were so scared by police that they consumed drugs in overdose quantities.
“I refute absolutely that Hot Kandi or I somehow caused these overdoses or was negligent in bringing them about. I reject claims by certain individuals that my events lend themselves to drug-taking more than any other event.”
Karr’s lawyer Nicholas Stewart echoes her client’s comments in a statement to News Corp Australia, saying, “The police were out the front and so intimidating that people freak out and if they have drugs on them they think, ‘Well I want to take my drugs,’ and so they make that decision to take them right then.”
Stewart denies that it was any fault of the organisers, instead suggesting, “This comes down to law enforcement and how it was conducted rather than an organiser running a drug party which was not the case.”
One of the men who was treated for an overdose supposedly said a sandwich gave him food poisoning, claiming that he hadn’t taken illicit drugs. “I had dinner with a mate beforehand, maybe it was that. It was Subway,” he reportedly said.
A motion passed through the Senate in September which could see the eventual removal of sniffer dogs and the introduction of pill testing at Aussie music festivals and events.
In May, NSW Police said that it had spent an average of $9.42 million a year on its sniffer dog drug detection unit since 2010.
Read Trish Karr’s Facebook statement in full, below.
Hot Kandi Statement 30/10/16 (Via Facebook)
Hot Kandi and its founder Trish Karr have rejected claims by members of the LGBTI community that Hot Kandi or Trish Karr condone or promote drug use at Hot Kandi Parties.
Last night Hot Kandi presented “Horror Mansion Halloween” with a sell-out crowd, live entertainment and a positive approach to safety and inclusiveness. Unfortunately, some party-goers engaged in drug use and three were hospitalised.
In organising the event, Hot Kandi went above and beyond to consult NSW Police and medical professionals. NSW Police were invited to Horror Mansion Halloween party and Hot Kandi employed trained medics to monitor patrons throughout the night. Hot Kandi informed patrons in advance of its zero-tolerance approach to drugs via Facebook.
Hot Kandi’s producer, Trish Karr said: “I am really disappointed that the actions of a few have ruined this event for the majority. Hot Kandi explicitly warned patrons in days prior that we had a zero-drugs policy and would not tolerate anyone abusing drugs”.
Ms Karr said she worked hard to facilitate a safe, inclusive and enjoyable Halloween party for the LGBTI community and its allies. She is concerned that law enforcements activities of NSW Police meant that some drug users overdosed in fear of being caught with drugs.
Ms Karr said, “When people see intimidating police officers they seem to panic and overdose. I warned everyone drugs would not be tolerated and I am concerned that a small few ignored my messages. I am also concerned that people were so scared by police that they consumed drugs in overdose quantities.”
In relation to media stories and claims by individuals on social media that Hot Kandi or Ms Karr were negligent, Ms Karr said: “My lawyer will consider these matters and write to the journalists and individuals concerned. I refute absolutely that Hot Kandi or I somehow caused these overdoses or was negligent in bringing them about. I reject claims by certain individuals that my events lend themselves to drug-taking more than any other event. I reserve my legal rights to protect my reputation as a professional event organiser.”