After 17 shot last year, Art All Night returns with extra security
TRENTON — Security is being beefed up for Art All Night, which takes place on Saturday and Sunday in Trenton.
Last year’s festival at the historic Roebling Wire Works building in Trenton became chaotic and bloody when a dispute between rival gangs turned ugly and erupted in gunfire, injuring 22 people — 17 of whom were shot after 3 a.m. June 17, 2018.
One man — a suspected gunman in the incident — killed by police. Another has pleaded guilty to weapons offenses and a third is facing serious weapons charges. Neither of the men who have been charged have been tied to any of the gunshot victims.
A year later, the Mercer County Prosecutor's Office continues to compile an investigation report, which may answer many of the questions about what happened. A spokeswoman for the prosecutor said Wednesday that the office is finalizing its report on the police-involved shooting before submitting it to the state Attorney General's Office. She could not say when the office anticipates the report to be released.
In the meantime, city officials are hoping the mayhem of last year won't keep the public away this year.
“Art All Night, we want to assure the public, will be safe, it’ll be fun. Art All night is expected to be bigger than ever,” Mayor Reed Gusciora said Wednesday.
The building where Art All Night will take place has been surrounded by security fencing, and everyone attending the event will have to pass through a security checkpoint. All bags will be checked and most liquids will not be permitted.
Police Director Sheilah Coley said the Art All Night festival has never had any of this security before.
“But now we see that we’re in a new normal, and this is what large events will look like in the city of Trenton," she said.
“The number of officers we’ll have in place, I won’t actually disclose that at this time because we will have both uniformed and plain clothes officers on site.”
She noted in addition to Trenton police officers at the scene there will also be State Troopers and officers from the prosecutor's and sheriff's offices and cops from neighboring communities.
Gusciora noted “this is no different than going to a soccer game or the U.S. Open. In this day in age, there has to be security and we want to assure the public that they will be protected.”
Lauren Otis, the director of Artworks said Art All Night, will continue to be free to the public.
The community art show will feature live music, live blacksmithing, mural painting, a film festival, a food truck court, children's activities and a craft market on Sunday.
But he also stressed members of the public are being asked to be patient.
“They will have a great time but we do anticipate long lines," he said.
Art All Night will begin at 3 p.m. Saturday and go till midnight.
The venue will then close until 7 a.m. Sunday when it will reopen, and run until 3 p.m.
You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com