Rap show uproar raises questions about police management, 1st Amendment | Arkansas Blog

Friday, October 13, 2017

Rap show uproar raises questions about police management, 1st Amendment

Posted By on Fri, Oct 13, 2017 at 6:49 AM

Some additional bits on the dispute that flared up yesterday over a rap concert scheduled at the Metroplex by MoneyBagg Yo, whose past concerts included two at which people were shot.

Police Chief Kenton Buckner had expressed concern to concert promoters last week about the sufficiency of security for the show. The promoter increased the number of Little Rock police to be hired to 15, in addition to their own security, plus planned metal screening. The City Board learned of the chief's concern yesterday and blew a gasket, led by Mayor Mark Stodola. Why hadn't they been told before? Why was only City Manager Bruce Moore in Buckner's loop?

An unhappy Stodola was overheard by the Democrat-Gazette reporter after a City Board budget meeting pressing City Attorney Tom Carpenter by phone to go to court to enjoin the concert. Carpenter apparently relayed some First Amendment prior restraint concerns. Win or lose, Stodola wanted to forge ahead.

The show and emergency meeting were scrapped. But the bad feelings will linger and affect City Hall politics at a minimum.

No matter how unsavory the rapper's past and no matter how many points Stodola will rack up in some segments of the community for silencing a rap concert, it's worth thinking about what the day's events mean.

The mayor didn't think the Little Rock police were capable of securing a music show. The City Board apparently thinks it should be brought into every management decision the police department makes about music shows — at least those involving certain types of performers. Also, the mayor is willing to attempt to go to court to stop a music show based on content.

Here's the statement the mayor issued about 9 p.m. last night. (Speaking of concern for the law, the city didn't properly provide notice to the public of the contemplated emergency city board meeting.)

"Late this afternoon I, along with members of the Board of Directors, learned of a planned concert featuring a performer with a history of violent incidents at two concerts in the past year as well as a shooting in August of this year that targeted the van in which the performer was riding. While the Little Rock Police Department had obtained intelligence and had been working to increase security, it was my opinion that the concert should not be held. There was no way to guarantee the safety of the audience, to effectively guarantee safety in the large parking lots of the Metroplex and with the State Fair beginning it made no sense to pull police resources from other areas of the city. I began in earnest exploring options for cancelling the concert. These included contacting the promoters and venue and urging them to cancel the concert as well as calling a special Board of Directors meeting for tonight to explore the pursuit of an injunction halting the concert. We have made strides in calming the recent uptick in violent crime in the city and putting this event on, considering the propensity of the performer's past concerts prompting violence, defies all logic. Our law enforcement officers are already doing so much. Since my discussions with the sponsors of the concert, I have learned that the concert has been cancelled and the special meeting is no longer necessary. As public officials, our most important duty is public safety. Public safety will continue to be our top priority for all our citizens as we work together to ensure to the best of our ability the safety of our people."
Stretched thin by the State Fair? Good thing there's no college football game in town.

Money Bagg took the loss of the show calmly, judging by his Twitter account. Also, he made a comment, I'm not sure related to Little Rock, but applicable to City Hall politics nonetheless.


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