Police unions criticize Beyonce's video, call for boycott

Posted February 19, 2016
Updated February 22, 2016

— Police unions are criticizing Beyoncé in the wake of her Super Bowl halftime act and new video, calling for a boycott because they think her work contains "anti-police" messages.

Unions in Miami, Tampa and Nashville, Tenn., are either calling for officers to boycott her music or urging them not volunteer to work at her shows. Raleigh police officers plan to vote Tuesday evening on whether to work at Beyoncé's May 3 concert at Carter-Finley Stadium.

"Our members have expressed specific concerns over the Black Panther images at half time of the Super Bowl," Rick Armstrong, vice president of the Raleigh Police Protective Association, said in a statement. "Many officers believe it was disrespectful to the police profession and hope Beyoncé will look to less controversial images to convey her point."

The Super Bowl halftime show – seen by an estimated 112 million people – drew praise from her fans and consternation from critics.

It was a display of unapologetic blackness and political activism. Beyoncé's dancers donned berets, sported Afros and wore all black, similar to the style of the Black Panther party that was founded 50 years ago in the Bay area — the location of the Super Bowl. At one point during their routine, the dancers formed an "X'' on the field, which some people took as a tribute to slain black activist Malcolm X.

Javier Ortiz, president of the Miami union, said recently that "Beyoncé used this year's Super Bowl to divide Americans by promoting the Black Panthers and her anti-police message shows how she does not support law enforcement."

Tampa Police Benevolent Association President Vincent Gericitano posted a statement on the group's website saying it was "disgusted" with the Super Bowl show and "equally disgusted" with her new music video.

The video for "Formation" invokes the Hurricane Katrina tragedy in New Orleans and includes a shot of the singer lying atop a police cruiser overtaken by floodwater. It also references the Black Lives Matter movement with police standing in riot gear and the words "stop shooting us" spray-painted on a wall.

The tour kicks off with a sold-out show in Miami on April 27. She plays Tampa two days later.

Tampa Police spokeswoman Andrea Davis said there is no indication that officers are not taking the extra-duty, voluntary shifts to provide security for the concert.

"This has been blown way out of proportion," she said.

Tampa Police even tweeted a GIF of Beyoncé on Thursday with the statement: "What?! @TampaPD officers have been in #formation for days signing up to keep the #Beehive safe! #Truth #Fact"

Miami Police spokesman Lt. Freddie Cruz said the extra-duty shifts for the concert will be "open for officers to sign up. Whether they sign up, it's up to them."

In Nashville, that chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police asked members to not volunteer for Beyoncé's concert there in May.


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  • Edward Anderson Feb 23, 2016
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    No, they get to pick and choose what *extra* things they will do.

  • Roy Pine Feb 23, 2016
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    So now, just like magistrates, LEOs get to pick and choose who they'll perform their jobs for?

  • Raleigh Rose Feb 23, 2016
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    Security for the concert by the police is on a voluntary basis and not part of their regular responsibilities. If this were not voluntary, then I would say it is wrong for them to not work the concert as part of their job. However, since it is voluntary I support their right to choose. It's their freedom of speech as much as Beyoncé's halftime performance was hers. This is a very good example of the fact that having free speech does not free you from the consequences of that speech.

    And I'm not saying either side is right or wrong-to me that is irrelevant. All I am saying is that both sides have a right to do what they are doing. Beyoncé to freedom of expression in her performances and LO to refuse to volunteer to work her show because they don't agree with her performance.

  • Dale Xavier Feb 23, 2016
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    Why are people calling Beyonce's performance racist? Because she used black cultural references? Because she had all black dancers? How many votes do the police take when a Southern rock band flies the confederate flag on stage?

  • Melanie Lane Feb 23, 2016
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    the overwhelming number of good cops should stop protecting bad ones - if you act like a baby because there are bad cops going unpunished, you're part of the problem not the solution. If they vote against protecting her, they're proving her right.

  • Harrison Hall Feb 23, 2016
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    for what its worth Police by default will be outside of the stadium. Also will provide traffic control support and due to the number of people will be inside the facility possibly plain clothes as well. I predict you will see officers take that extra pay for this gig. (nowdays its way more than $25)

    Around the country the concert is already sold out at many places.

    In Raleigh the Concert is pretty much sold out and tickets have only been on sale for about a day. (resale tickets for ground seats are above 1k in main sections)

    The avg. ticket price for this tour far exceeds her previous tours (Mrs. Carter, and on the Run tour). And this tour has sold way faster.

  • Roger Way Feb 23, 2016
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    "Volunteer" refers to working during their off-duty hours for pay. Not sure what the scale is today, but when I was on the job, we received $25.00 an hour for off-duty security work in uniform. The benefit of hiring off-duty police officers for events like this is that they retain and can use their law enforcement authority, equipment, and communication to handle situations. They are also trained to respond in a professional manner often keeping a situation from escalating. Hired non-police security officers lack this authority and often lack this level of training and experience.

  • Steve Clark Feb 23, 2016
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    It seems to me that this is 'much ado about nothing'. I suspect Beyonce has MORE than enough money to pay for private security. I could be mistaken, but do the cops have some sort of 'obligation' to provide security to stars? Or, are we saying the cops have an obligation to provide security for an event?

    And also - they mention 'volunteering'.. I mean.. if they are not getting paid, then this is a crazy situation anyway.

  • Ray Rivera Feb 23, 2016
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    One added point, if they Boycott will the concert be a go or will it be cancelled due to no security?

  • Roger Way Feb 23, 2016
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    Respect goes both ways. Beyonce had the right to make this nationwide statement and these police officers have the right to choose which commercial enterprise they will or will not support in their OFF-DUTY hours.

    In my opinion, this Superbowl performance was a direct insult to our professional police officers - professionals who will still serve and protect this artist in a time of need - ON DUTY.