50 Crazy White Guys with Machetes: Hardcore Crews Brawled in Lakewood Saturday


UPDATE: Above, courtesy of the Lakewood Police Department, is a mugshot of one of the arrested brawlers: Alexander Shepherd, 25, from Cincinnati, OH. Also, below,Via WTAM, here's audio from a few frazzled Lakewood residents as they call 911 during the ruckus.


Four people suffered stab wounds and 20 were arrested in a brawl on Detroit Avenue Saturday evening. An argument between rival hardcore crews associated with metal bands at the Foundry’s Firefest 2014 quickly escalated on the streets of Lakewood.

Eye witness accounts vary, though the fact that it was “really crazy” seems beyond dispute. Jim O’Bryan at the Lakewood Observer was on scene. Shots were fired (into a crowd and then skyward) near the Foundry on Detroit Avenue at Coutant (just west of W. 117th) which alerted Lakewood Police. Cleveland Police also responded. Men with “tattoos and black hoodies” were seen running through the streets with machetes and baseball bats. They’d largely scattered by the time authorities arrived.

On the assorted weaponry:

Foundry general manager Mark Witherspoon posted Sunday on Facebook that the brawl had everything to do with the “crews” involved and nothing do with the scene.

“This was a CREW RELATED BEEF between FSU and SOSF. This WAS NOT a product of the wonderful scene that we all represent and have built together!!” His post reads. “Most involved in the brawl [Saturday] had no intentions on coming to the show to watch music and had every intention to cause a fuckin ruckus.”

The FSU — “Friends Stand United” — originated in Boston as an anti-racist outfit. FSU members have seen no problem with violence committed against drug dealers and overt racists at hardcore shows. The word “purge” has been associated with their tactics. The group has splintered several times into more general criminal enterprises (among them, the Outlaws Motorcycle Club) and mayhem-making at concerts.

The Youngstown-based SOSF — “Swing on Sight Family” — appears to be just a fighting group, though they’re ostensibly animated by the same anti-racist rhetoric of FSU. Band affiliation at Firefest has not been officially publicized, but members of Race Riot 59, slotted to play Saturday evening, wear SOSF apparel in several of their YouTube videos, notably “Smash Nazis.”

The rest of the Foundry’s lineup that evening, including shows by Ringworm, Death Before Dishonor, and Weekend Nachos, were canceled.

“It's a shame that a few assholes are about to give a whole new stigma to what aggressive music entails and/or represents in our area,” Witherspoon’s post went on. “The Non-Violent advocates of all forms of music in Cleveland stand UNITED and we DETEST anything otherwise!"

Lakewood police are currently collecting statements from the 20 people they have in custody. Some of them are expected to make court appearances Tuesday.

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Sam Allard

Sam Allard is the Senior Writer at Scene, in which capacity he covers politics and power and writes about movies when time permits. He's a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and the NEOMFA at Cleveland State. Prior to joining Scene, he was encamped in Sarajevo, Bosnia, on an...
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