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Is Travis Scott’s $5 million Project HEAL initiative a PR stunt to sway his lawsuit jurors?

By Alma Fabiani

Mar 30, 2022

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On 9 March 2022, Travis Scott announced on Instagram that he had launched Project HEAL, a $5 million multi-tier initiative that aims to “take much needed action towards supporting real solutions that make all events the safest spaces they can possibly be,” among other youth-related matters. This followed the tragic event that took place during the rapper’s Astroworld festival on 5 November 2021, where ten attendees lost their lives, 13 ended up being hospitalised and around 300 others had to be treated on site.

Shortly after the shocking news broke out, hundreds of lawsuits were filed against Scott and Live Nation—the company responsible for organising the festival. These suits were then moved forward as one case, as formally granted by a Texas court panel in January 2022.

However, on 28 March 2022, attorneys for some of those killed and injured during the deadly music festival alleged in court that rapper Scott has violated a gag order—which requires an individual to refrain from making public comments—issued in lawsuits they have filed and claimed it was the rapper’s attempt to influence possible jurors and rebuild his reputation ahead of a potential trial.

“I will always honour the victims of the Astroworld tragedy who remain in my heart forever,” Scott wrote in his announcement’s caption on Instagram. “Giving back and creating opportunities for the youth is something I’ve always done and will continue to do as long as I have the chance. This program will be a catalyst to real change and I can’t wait to introduce the rest of the technology and ideas we’ve been working on. See you all so soon,” he continued.

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Bob Hilliard, one of the attorneys representing the family of nine-year-old Ezra Blount, the youngest person to die from injuries during the concert, said during a court hearing on Monday that Scott used the power of his social media presence to address concert safety—one of the issues being debated by the lawsuits.

An attorney representing Scott named Stephen Brody rejected this claim, responding in court by pointing to the rapper’s history of working with charities. He stated, “To suggest somehow that speaking about those charitable initiatives […] runs afoul of the publicity order […] is certainly not something that would withstand scrutiny.” He further noted that any efforts to prevent the celebrity from speaking on this or any other concerns would be a violation of his constitutional right of free expression.

State District Judge Kristen Hawkins has previously said that lawyers could tell the media about factual issues that happen in court, but added that she didn’t want attorneys or others to make their cases in the court of public opinion and possibly influence the jury pool. Scott’s actions “did affect and dent the power of your order,” Hilliard recently told Hawkins.

At the time Project HEAL was announced, many—including some of the victims’ families—were quick to dismiss it as nothing more than a PR stunt aiming to save Scott’s ass. Tericia Blount, the grandmother of Ezra Blount, told Rolling Stone, “He’s pretty much trying to sway the jurors before they’re even assembled. He’s trying to make himself look good, but it doesn’t look that way to someone with our eyes. What we’re seeing is that he’s done wrong, and now he’s trying to be the good guy and trying to give his own verdict on safety.”

Scott and Live Nation are currently facing billions in potential damages in the Astroworld lawsuit.