Nearly 60,000 people gathered in Central Park’s Great Lawn on Saturday for the seventh annual Global Citizen Festival, featuring performances from Janelle Monae, John Legend, Shawn Mendes, Cardi B, Janet Jackson and The Weeknd.
The day-long event, hosted by husband and wife Hugh Jackman and Deborra-lee Furness, encouraged attendees to become active in social issues, including reducing the amount of single-use plastic, eliminating bail bond policies that unfairly target minorities and the poor and providing every child with access to quality education.
If you couldn’t make it to New York or didn’t get a chance to stream it online, here are the top moments from the 2018 Global Citizen Festival.
Janelle Monae Stands in Solidarity with Sexual Assault Survivors
Referencing Thursday’s testimony from Dr. Christine Blasey Ford stating her alleged claims of sexual assault by Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Janelle Monae said, “this past week was a brutal, brutal week for a lot of us women.”
Monae proclaimed her solidarity with sexual assault survivors and called on fans and attendees to do the same. “So today, I’m standing here with my sisters on this stage, and with you. And, we want to send a message loud and clear to survivors here and all over the world; let’s make sure that they know that these 60,000 global citizens right here in this audience have got your back.”
'Popping Bottle' Causes Panic
Turns out it wasn't a falling security barrier that caused a brief panic in the crowd. It was a "popping bottle," festival organizers said.
Although New York police initially said a loud noise that sounded like gunfire was caused by a security barrier that fell, a statement from festival organizers on Sunday said police determined it was a bottle that someone stepped on.
"While NYPD originally advised that a fallen security barrier caused the noise, NYPD informed us today that it was the sound of an attendee(s) stepping on and popping a drink bottle(s)," the statement read.
Video from the incident showed some upset fans hugging each other after the scare at around 7:30 p.m. A New York Police Department official said on stage that no shots were fired.
An NBC reporter at the event described the scene as “total panic in the crowd.” People climbed benches and knocked over barricades, and some people were seen crying and trying to call friends and other loved ones.
"All we saw was a mass of people running," one woman said on MSNBC, which is airing the annual event. "Like a wave of people coming in this direction ... my daughter’s screaming at me to run."
Large-scale public venues have been under increased security concerns after shootings at public events. Some people jumped over barricades amid the scare, according to reports from the scene. The scare at the Saturday’s festival and concert occurred days before the one-year anniversary of a mass shooting at a country music concert in Las Vegas in which 58 people were killed. The gunman in that shooting killed himself.
Sen. Jeff Flake Makes an Appearance After a Newsworthy Week
Sen. Jeff Flake, R- Ariz., made an appearance alongside Sen. Chris Coons D-Del., after a newsworthy week of Kavanaugh news. On Friday, Flake called for the Senate floor vote to be delayed one week so the FBI could look into sexual misconduct allegations against Kavanaugh.
“It was our personal relationship that made the politics of compromise that prevailed yesterday possible," Coon said.
Flake and Coons talked about their time spent volunteering in Africa as young men.
“As senators, we’ve had the opportunity to develop a deep and genuine friendship traveling and working in Africa on the issues we most care about,” Coons said to the crowd.
The two urged bipartisan support for foreign aid and promoting democracy.
“Thanks to all of you global citizens who have contacted us this year," Flake said. "You’ve texted, you’ve called, you’ve touched our hearts.”
Flake also mentioned his encounter Friday with Ana Maria Archil, a sexual assault survivor who confronted him in an elevator about his decision to recommend Kavanaugh to the full Senate for confirmation to the Supreme Court.
"Feel free to join me in an elevator anytime,” he said.
Will Smith Bungee Jumps from A Helicopter
Actor, activist and social media star — one of his newest titles, Will Smith celebrated his milestone by bungee jumping from a helicopter to raise money for the “Education Cannot Wait” charity.
Smith chose to raise money for the charity because it “services probably 75 million plus children around the world, specifically in difficult, sometimes war-torn areas where children are being denied education for whatever reason.”
As the actor turned 50, he shared his personal commitment to be a citizen of the world. “Where I am in my life, everything has to be a contribution. I want all of my actions to be a contribution to the human family.”
Cardi B Urges Millennials to Exercise Their Right to Vote
After her first performance since having her child in July, Cardi B spoke on the importance of bringing change to local communities by voting. “I was going to read from the teleprompter, but I’m [going] to say it how I want to say it,” the rapper, known for being candid, said on stage. “It is our right to vote and nobody can take that right from us … we need to vote. Especially us, the millennials, under 25 and over 18.”
Speaking on her disappointment in the outcome of the 2016 presidential election, she admitted her lack of participation, but pledged to be more involved going forward. “Last election, everybody took it as a joke, even me, I’m not even going to front. Because I thought 'man, that person ain’t going to win,' and look where we at now.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Ava Duvernay, Cynthia Erivo and Call for The End of Cash Bond Bail
Filmmaker and activist Ava Duvernay, actress Cynthia Erivo and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called for an end to the criminalization of poverty and the injustice of the cash bail system in the U.S.
Duvernay, director the Netflix documentary “13th,” which sheds light on the mass incarceration of African-Americans, and Erivo spoke about bail reform.
“Tonight in America, half a million people will sleep in a jail cell convicted of nothing, but are too poor to afford their freedom,” Duvernay said.
Ervio added, “Justice for these men and women is a privilege only the wealthy enjoy. Cash bail is the criminalization of poverty hitting communities of color the hardest.”
“Equal justice means that regardless of the color of your skin, regardless of your wealth, you deserve justice and a cash bail system violates justice," Cuomo said. "It’s that simple.”
He also noted that New York lawmakers have called for the close of Rikers Island, the notorious jail in New York City.
“Rikers Island is a hellhole," he said. "And Rikers Island has to be closed. And it has to be closed now.”
Cuomo pledged to end the cash bail system in the state of New York this year, earning applause from the crowd.
“In America, you are still innocent until proven guilty and that is whether you are black or white, whether you are rich or poor,” he said. “We’re going to end the cash bail system once for all, and we’re going to do it this year.”
Michelle Obama Asks Every Eligible Voter to Take Action in November
In a prerecorded message, former first lady Michelle Obama pleaded for everyone to cast their vote in the upcoming November elections.
“As a citizen and as an activist, it’s critical that you get registered and cast your vote this November,” she said. “Our democracy only works with your participation.”
Janet Jackson: 'Equality is our demand, action is our answer'
Janet Jackson paused in the middle of her performance to comment on the #MeToo movement and the unfair treatment of women.
“Look, like millions of other women out there, I know about bullying," she said. "I know about verbal abuse. I know about physical abuse. I know about abuse of authority. I’m sick. I’m repulsed. I’m infuriated by the double standards that continue to treat women as second-class citizens.”
She continued, "Enough, you guys, enough. Enough injustice. Enough bigotry. Mistreatment and mindless prejudice has to stop. And stop now.”
“Equality is our demand, action is our answer,” she told the crowd.
Robert De Niro Urges People to Vote
Actor, producer, director and social activist Robert De Niro, alongside actress Rachel Brosnahan and comedian Kal Penn, took the stage to plead for attendees to use their right to vote.
“You’re at this amazing concert because you took your responsibility as global citizens seriously ... Now, we are asking you to take your responsibility as U.S. citizens seriously by voting.”
Reminding the crowd of the power of voting, De Niro said “voting is how we hire and how we fire our leaders … Guess what? They’re not our bosses, we’re their bosses.”