New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has stepped in to defend organizers of the annual electronic music festival Electric Zoo after the drug-related deaths of two concertgoers at this year’s event.
According to Gothamist, Bloomberg told reporters that the festival co-founders, Mike Bindra and Laura De Palma, have been “nothing but cooperative, and I have nothing but good things to say about them.”
Olivia Rotondo, 20, and Jeffrey Russ, 23, both died on Saturday after reportedly taking the drug known as Molly, which is another form of Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), or Ecstasy. As a result, the final day of the three-day festival was called off.
“The bottom line here is that you see people here who are doing drugs that shouldn’t be doing drugs and you see the fatal consequences,” Bloomberg said. “And when people want to go down that slippery slope and say ‘oh it’s just fun,’ it isn’t just fun. There are two families that are not going to have their children come home.”
The New York Daily News reports that 31 people were arrested on drug charges during the first two days of the festival. There is also one report of a sexual assault.
Bindra and De Palma have come under fire this week for the deaths. As Gothamist notes, Bindra is a former manager of the renowned Chelsea dance club Twilo, which was shut down in May 2001 after two drug-related deaths and reports that the club hid unconscious patrons in a back room. Bindra’s spokesperson said he was not involved in security issues at the club.
“There’s something that he was involved with about a dozen years ago, but we’ve been working with this promoter, organizer, for the past five years and they have a stellar record,” Bloomberg said.
“We’ll always look first at the safety of the event. And sadly in our day and age, if you’re going to have young people there, one of the things you certainly have to check for is drugs. As you see, it is almost impossible to keep them out, even though we have done a pretty good job of reducing the number,” Bloomberg said, according to the Wall Street Journal.