Travis Scott is defending his new initiative.
In the aftermath of the Astroworld tragedy, the Houston rapper announced Project HEAL, a long-term series of community-focused philanthropy and investment efforts that he says will be a “catalyst for real change.”
The four-pronged project includes $1 million in pledged scholarships for students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities, mental health programs, a creative design education program, and a new tech-driven solution to address safety issues for large-scale live events.
However, it was not well received by the family of Astroworld’s youngest victim, 9-year-old Ezra Blount, who died from injuries suffered in the Nov. 5 crowd control disaster.
Blount’s grandparents have criticized Project HEAL as a publicity stunt that they believe violates the gag order placed on the hundreds of lawsuits filed in the wake of the deadly tragedy.
“It’s a PR stunt. He’s pretty much trying to sway the jurors before they’re even assembled,” Tericia Blount told Rolling Stone. “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.”
The Blount family has filed an emergency motion, arguing that Project HEAL was “designed to gain goodwill” and prevents Blount and the other plaintiffs’ ability to obtain a fair trial.
“Blount and the other plaintiffs herein do not have the high profile ability to sway public opinion as defendant Scott — an international music star — and his sophisticated media team do,” writes Robert Hilliard, the lead lawyer for Ezra’s father, Treston Blount.
Travis’ lawyers have defended his right to “make public statements about his ongoing philanthropic work, even as it relates to public safety.” In response to the motion filed Wednesday, his attorneys said it would be “overly broad” for the judge overseeing the Astroworld lawsuits to include Scott in the gag order.
“It also runs afoul of the First Amendment, which guarantees parties like Mr. Scott the right to speak publicly about important philanthropic work that began long before the Astroworld Festival or… almost immediately afterward,” the lawyers write in the new filing, obtained by Rolling Stone.
Travis appeared to be in good spirits while making his return to Instagram following the Project HEAL announcement.