/ 6 July 2009

LA police face crowd control challenge at Jackson memorial

Almost 9 000 people were learning of their good luck on Monday as their names were drawn in a lottery for free tickets to the Michael Jackson memorial to be held on Tuesday in Los Angeles.

Organisers of the event said 1,6-million people had registered for tickets, underlining the public demand. It also emphasised the crowd control challenge facing the city’s police on Tuesday, when tens of thousands of ticketless fans are expected to descend on downtown LA.

Each of the 8 750 lottery winners is entitled to two tickets, with 11 000 ticket holders allowed into the memorial ceremony in the Staples Centre, and a further 6 500 into a spill-over venue at the adjacent Nokia theatre.

Among those attending are likely to be many thousands from the UK, with or without tickets. The TMZ website said that flights from London to LA and to large airports in the region, such as San Francisco and Denver, were rapidly filling up.

The New York Post meanwhile reported that the remaining members of the Jackson 5 were considering reuniting. The paper quoted an anonymous family member as saying Michael’s four brothers — Tito, Jermaine, Jackie and Marlon — would seek to fill at least five of the 50 Michael Jackson concerts at the O2 Arena in London, using up to 100 hours of video of his rehearsals as the centrepiece.

The idea was said to have come from the patriarch of the family, Joe Jackson, though there has been no confirmation from any of the family, or from AEG, the promoter of the tour.

LA police will try to maintain order in the city by imposing a large sterile zone around the Staples Centre, through which only lottery winners and accredited family, friends and media will be permitted. That still leaves the question of how thousands of frustrated fans will be accommodated in the surrounding streets.

The memorial is billed as a relatively sombre event lasting 90 minutes. Earlier plans to have Jackson’s body paraded through LA have been dropped.

Final arrangements for his funeral have yet to be announced, though it has been reported that he will be buried in a $25 000 gold coffin known as a Promethean. A similar coffin was used for the soul singer James Brown. – guardian.co.uk