BARBARA HART WAS celebrating her wedding anniversary and waiting for Brandi Carlile to take the stage at Madison Square Garden on Oct. 22, when a pair of security guards approached her and her husband by their seats and asked for the couple to follow them. At first, Hart tells Rolling Stone she was excited, thinking it was some sort of surprise before the concert started. Her excitement turned to anxiety soon after, however, as she spoke with security and gathered that she’d been identified using facial-recognition technology. Then they escorted her out of the venue.
Hart was initially confused, having no idea why she was flagged. She says security informed her that she was being ejected because of her job as an attorney at Grant & Eisenhofer, a law firm currently litigating against Madison Square Garden’s parent company in a Delaware class-action suit involving several groups of shareholders.
Madison Square Garden Entertainment, owned by James Dolan (who has been known to kick out fans who anger him), confirms to RS that it enacted a policy in recent months forbidding anyone in active litigation against the company from entry to the company’s venues — which include the New York arena that gives the company its name, along with Radio City Music Hall, Beacon Theatre, and the Chicago Theatre. The company’s use of facial recognition tools itself dates back to at least 2018, when the New York Times reported on it; anyone who enters the venue is subject to scanning, and that practice now seems to coincide with the policy against opposing litigants.
“This is retaliatory behavior of powerful people against others, and that should be concerning to us,” says Hart, who also spoke of the incident in a sworn affidavit last month, as Reuters reported. Hart recalls that she declined to give MSG security her ID, but that they were able to correctly identify her anyway; she says security mentioned her picture appearing on Grant & Eisenhofer’s website, leading her to the conclusion that facial recognition was involved. “It was a very eerie experience to be on the receiving end of at that moment.”