So now that I’ve had some time to sit with everything that happened and process all of it, I figured that it was important to address this weekend in a public space.
For those of you who don’t already know, this weekend I went to Connecticon in Hartford Connecticut, and on Saturday night my friends and I were robbed at gunpoint by a group of five men (two of which had guns). They took both my friends’ phones, and mine and my friend’s wallets. (Which, incidentally, contained all of the money I was saving to pay my bills this month. So that sucked.) Nobody was hurt, but it was still probably the most terrifying experience of my life.
We called the police and everything, and went through all the channels. The next morning, as I talked about what happened to everyone who would listen, I found out that we weren’t the only ones who were attacked that night. At least five other people had apparently had the same problem, though not all had been mugged by the same group.
One of the major factors in what happened was that one of the venues for the Convention, the Hilton Hotel, which was hosting all of the game rooms and the LARPs (as well as Ultimate Werewolf, which was why we were there), was about a mile away from the actual convention center. That’s a long walk for a congoer. And while the convention was providing a free shuttle service to attendees, that shuttle service ended at 3am. As anyone who’s gone to a con knows, Saturday night rarely ends before the sun comes up.
This raises the question of safety at conventions. Should the convention be held responsible for what happens when attendees are in transit between con venues? When is it appropriate to have two major venues so far apart? Should a con be required to provide some sort of transportation between venues at all hours during the convention?
I spoke to the security director of the convention on Sunday, and he was very standoffish about the situation. He said we “should’ve walked in a bigger group” or “should’ve called a cab”. He told me the convention wasn’t liable for anything that happened off convention grounds during non-con hours.
While I understand his point, I certainly don’t agree with it. I was with two friends when we were mugged, one of whom is over 6 feet tall, huge, and an army veteran. I had no reason to feel unsafe walking back with him, which was why it didn’t feel necessary to call a cab. . That and I couldn’t afford to get a cab; I’m a poor post-grad who just happened to get lucky enough to go to the con for free.
As for the con not being responsible, I am speechless. As a congoer for 15 years, I am well aware of the fact that Saturday night doesn’t typically end. It’s the night of the (not)rave, the night everyone gets drunk and parties. Werewolf runs all night on Saturday nights at the cons I go to, and it is an expected part of the convention to be out late. The security director did not seem like a stupid man, so he would have had to have been well aware of the fact that attendees would be out late that night. To just brush off the responsibility of Connecticon in this situation is ridiculous, especially considering just how far the Hilton was from the rest of the con. I’m not saying it’s entirely their fault, but there were plenty of preventative measures that could have been taken.
At the very least, I think that if a convention has a venue hosting events so far from the main building, then they need to provide shuttle service at all hours, or at least all night Saturday. Even if they can’t reach an agreement with the hotels themselves to have the shuttle service run through them, just rent a damn bus for the weekend. In the long run it saves face for the convention and will guarantee the safety of the attendees, increasing the possibility that they’ll come back the following year.
I really strongly felt that Connecticon didn’t care at all about my safety as an attendee in this situation. I felt like just another number, especially when the security director essentially blamed my friends and I for what happened If I was him, I’d be horrified that my attendees were attacked on my watch. I’d feel like a failure.
All this being said, I’m not sure how I feel about Connecticon at this point. It was my first year going to it, and I had a wonderful time aside from the attack. I’m supposed to go to Otakon next month, but in light of what happened I’m not sure I want to go to it or any con. I love conventions and I love cosplaying, but if I don’t feel safe anymore than what’s the point? I keep having flashbacks to that night, and can’t even walk to my car in broad daylight without feeling terrified. In light of that, I can only imagine being at a con would be ten times worse.
Posted on Monday, 14 July
Tagged as: connecticon muggings cosplay conventions anime cons anime otakon
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- wildanduntamedthing said: The same thing happened to me a little over a year ago. It’s terrifying and it sucks. I’m so sorry you had to go through that.
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