My Global Citizen Scare

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.

Email This Story

Terrifying. Traumatic. Those were not the words most people expected to use to describe the annual Global Citizen Festival held in NYC on September 29.

The day began on the general admission line, which extended for over 11 city streets. After three hours of inching up, our tickets were scanned, and we ran to reach Section 3 in time to catch half of Shawn Mendes’ performance. Shortly after Cardi B performed, we quickly realized that our phone batteries would not be enough to sustain us for the whole night, so we went to charge our phones at the charging station, storing them in mini locker compartments. A little after 7:00 pm, we made our way to the tents with food and drinks to grab a snack. “May I have some chocolate ch—”

Boom. I spun my head around to see thousands of people sprinting towards me on the race of their lives. At first, I did not understand why they were running; all I processed was what I instinctively recognized as a gunshot. Panic-stricken, I grabbed ahold of my friends as we were already being separated by the aggressive stampede of people. I instinctively brushed all other insignificant thoughts or troubles aside; I thought it was life or death.

There were screams and cries for help everywhere and no time to process. We tripped over multiple steel barricades until reaching a policeman who said, “Nothing happened. There is nothing to be worried about.” The thousands of people racing for the narrow exit ways said otherwise, but it really was not the time nor the place to start that discussion. And, suddenly, it hit us: We had no way to contact anyone or notify our family having just locked our phones. We were torn between believing the police officer and going back for our phones or leaving without looking back. My group was split half and half on what to do; we mustered up enough courage to go back, under the condition that we would link arms.

After retrieving my phone, I got a stream of texts from my friends who were at the festival, all of whom were way deeper in the crowd. With all the adrenaline running through me, I broke down, thinking my friends were close to a gunman. I wanted to go back to look for them, tears running down my face. I knew it was an emotionally-driven thought, and, looking back, I am thankful someone held me back.

We followed the crowd through the winding curves of Central Park towards the nearest exit. On the way out, there were many shrieks and people relating the sound we heard to that of a bomb or the tragedy of 9/11. Alongside us, there were injured people limping or being carried through the winding roads of the park, just trying to remain in one piece, after being trampled and shoved in the stampede. Once out of the park, we reached another Lynbrook group and I was so grateful for that. Knowing we were all safe was the best thing I could have heard that night.

I checked my phone again, only to learn that this was broadcasted as breaking news, and my parents had already heard. I texted, “Safe,” enough for them to know my wellbeing. Tears continued to fill my eyes as I pondered the millions of hypothetical scenarios starting with “What if?”

Initially the organization released a statement implying that the audience was simply overreacting. This statement deservedly received much backlash. The statement claimed the gunshots people heard, and then later assumed was the sound of a barricade falling, was actually the sound of someone stepping on a water bottle.

I later learned that an estimated total of 60,000 people had attended the event. Astonishingly, the show went on. I could not see how anyone would voluntarily walk back into the park against the flow of traffic to “finish” the already ended show. I am still reliving the feeling of terror of that moment when everything changed. I realize there is not “full recovery” after experiencing that level of fear, but in the long term I am going to be okay. The feeling of unity and sticking together is one I would never want to live without.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email