Saint Anthony Hospital Ends Dispute With Riot Fest Organizers

Riot Fest organizers have ended their dispute with a Lawndale hospital after the two exchanged "aggressive" statements ahead of this year's festival.

Saint Anthony Hospital and Riot Fest released a joint statement saying the two “have reached an agreement for the festival to go on. With the help of city officials, misunderstandings have been clarified and access to the hospital guaranteed for the community.”

“Unfortunately, passions ran high on both sides and motivations were questioned. Both sides regret their aggressive statements,” the statement read. “Saint Anthony Hospital acknowledges that Riot Fest was not lying and Riot Fest acknowledges that Saint Anthony Hospital was not motivated by financial gain.”

The lawsuit was dropped after terms over the concert were met, such as parking restored on 19th St. in front of the hospital, pedestrian barricades set up, and sound being monitored from the event.

The hospital had filed a suit against the organizers of Riot Fest in an attempt to block them from holding the festival in Douglas Park.

Saint Anthony Hospital, which is located directly across the street from Douglas Park on the south side of the park, filed a temporary restraining order, according to hospital officials, who said at the time that the lawsuit is "life-saving" action.

As the organizers began to set up the festival on Sept. 2, officials at Saint Anthony told the organizers they planned to sue them unless they paid the hospital $158,000, the festival organizers said in a previous statement.  

"It is unfortunate that Saint Anthony officials are taking a festival that should be seen as a vibrant and positive addition to the community and are trying to use it for ulterior motives," the festival organizers said in the statement.

Hospital officials, however, said that Riot Fest organizers attempted to pay them the money to silence them, but they rejected the offer.

"Riot Fest made a substantial monetary offer for our silence and it was rejected because Riot Fest refused to address our very real patient and employee safety issues," said Kathryn Grosso, a spokesperson for Saint Anthony Hospital. "This is about patient safety."

During meetings with residents and businesses in the area, Saint Anthony asked festival organizers to take into consideration the proximity of the hospital and do what they can to mitigate disturbances, but the hospital did not reveal any plans to sue, according to organizers. At the request of hospital officials, however, they changed the stage locations and entrances of the festival.

Hospital officials said festival organizers made other promises that they did not keep.

"Riot Fest is lying, plain and simple," Grosso said. "The truth is Riot Fest got kicked out of Humboldt Park and continues to play fast and loose with the facts to ensure they don't get kicked out of Douglas Park."

Riot Fest was moved to Douglas Park from Humboldt Park this year after residents and Ald. Roberto Maldonado (26th Ward) complained about damage to the park.

Ald. Maldonado told Riot Fest organizers he did not want the event to return to Humboldt Park for the fourth year after last year's festival caused $182,000 in damage to the park. The alderman initially supported the festival for its economic benefits, but he said there ended up being more damage than economic revival.

This year's Riot Fest is scheduled for Sept. 11 to 13.

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