Beyoncé in the "Formation" video

Police unions across the country are boycotting Beyoncé

Public protest against "Formation" may have been a dud this week but cops in Miami, Tampa & Tennessee are still mad


Sophia Tesfaye
February 20, 2016 1:33AM (UTC)

Nearly two weeks after taking the stage during the half-time of Super Bowl 50, Beyoncé is still receiving flack for her homage to the Black Panthers from police groups across the country who claim the superstar's new hit "Formation" is an anti-police ode.

What started off as ridiculous, if not entirely predictable, faux outrage expressed by right-wing media outlets like Fox News (guest and Former New York City mayor Rudy Guilianni ripped Beyoncé's performance as an "outrageous attack on police") and The Blaze (a host compared the Black Panthers to the KKK), was quickly picked up by police officer groups and unions across the country this week.

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Although a larger, highly publicized effort to boycott the NFL in New York City the day tickets for Beyonce's world tour went on sale was a bust this week (only three people bothered to show up), police groups have seen their complaints amplified as some officers reportedly refuse to provide police protection for the global superstar's tour, while others blame her "Formation" video for a spike in violence against cops.

The music video for "Formation" features provocative images referencing Hurricane Katrina and the Black Lives Matter movement and her Super Bowl back-up dancers wore afros and black berets:

Miami

As Miami New Times reports, the Miami Police union president is calling for law enforcement officers to boycott the kickoff date to her forthcoming Formation World Tour in the city on April 27 at Marlins Park.

President of the Miami Fraternal Order of Police, Javier Ortiz, accused the singer of using her Super Bowl performance "to divide Americans by promoting the Black Panthers and her anti-police message."

Ortiz admitted that he did not watch the half-time show "out of respect for our profession," but he did "mistakenly" watch and took issue with the singer's "Formation" video. Ortiz particularly complained of the artistic depiction of police in riot gear with their hands up while a young black boy in a hoodie dances in front.

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"Hands up, don't shoot was built on a lie," Ortiz insisted, challenging Beyoncé to read the Justice Department report on Michael Brown's shooting.

The union represents about 11,000 officers and was one of several police unions across the country that called for a boycott of Oscar-winning Quentin Tarantino's latest film, "Hateful Eight," after he dared to speak out against police brutality last fall.

Tampa

In Tampa, after Union President Vincent Gericitano said that several officers were so upset by Beyoncé's Super Bowl performance that the department had a shortage of officers to work the singer's stop in the city, the Department was forced to tweet that their officers had actually been in "formation" for days:

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Tampa PBA eventually said it has no plans to boycott Beyonce as a union even if individual officers decide to.

New York City 

The New York Police Department's Sergeants Benevolent Association was quick to jump aboard the Beyoncé boycott bandwagon, however. President Ed Mullins said that "law enforcement across the country has to make a statement that we're not bad guys and she's got to stop portraying us as bad guys," announcing plans to boycott her June performances.

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Houston 

Houston Police Officers' Union president Ray Hunt told CNN that the union is allowing its officers to decide if they would like to boycott Beyoncé's, a Houston native, tour or not on their own. Hunt said that he was unsure of the message in the "Formation" video an hoped Beyoncé would explain further.

Tennessee

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A Tennessee sheriff suggested this week that an alleged rise in violence against police officers is directly related to Beyoncé's controversial Super Bowl half-time performance and new music video.

On Monday, there were reports of eight shots fired outside the home of Rutherford County Sheriff Robert Arnold. During a news conference on Tuesday, Arnold floated the possibility that Beyoncé's performance may have instigated the shooter.

"With everything that's happened since the Super Bowl, and with law enforcement as a whole. I think we've lost five to seven officers, five deputies, sheriffs since the Super Bowl," Arnold told reporters. "Here's another target on law enforcement."

When pressed to clarify what he meant by his reference to the Super Bowl, Arnold replied: "Well you have Beyoncé's video and how that's kind of bled over into other things it seems like about law enforcement."

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Milwaukee 

Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clark, a frequent Fox News regular, denounced the half-time show in an interview with the Fox Business Network, comparing the Black Panthers to the KKK.

"Would it be acceptable if a white band came out in hoods and white sheets in the same sort of fashion?" he asked. "We would be appalled and outraged. The Black Panthers are a subversive hate group in America. I think she could have done a better job."

Detroit

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A Detroit police sergeant's Facebook post following suit sparked so much outraged the Detroit police were forced to launch an internal investigation.

The post read: "If the dance troupe at the top is okay for this year's half-time show, then the one at a bottom should be okay for next year, right?" Pictures comparing Beyonce's back up dancers to the Ku Klux Klan followed beneath, according to WJBK.

The Detroit police sergeant later retracted his post and replaced it with an apology, according to local news reports.

And according to the Washington Examiner, Members of the National Sheriffs’ Association meeting in Washington, D.C. collectively turned their backs during the halftime performance to protest Beyoncé. The group’s president, Sheriff Danny Glick of Laramie County, Wyoming, “called on the NFL to choose less controversial half time entertainment in the future.”

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“At this point, I think the NFL had a serious error in judgment,” National Sheriffs’ Association Executive Director Jonathan Thompson told The Washington Post

Bill Johnson, Executive director of the National Association of Police Organizations, said Friday that "We fully support individual officers' and their unions' call for the boycott. Why would any group of working men and women support a rich celebrity who openly glorifies murderers? Why would anybody?"

The National Sheriffs' Association eventually amplified the baseless accusations of sheriffs across the country, blaming Beyonce's "anti-police entertainment" for "inciting bad behavior”:

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The Washington Post wrote an article about how Beyoncé Super Bowl show — watched by nearly 120 million Americans —...

Posted by National Sheriffs' Association on Thursday, February 18, 2016

Cop Blames Shooting on Beyonce


Sophia Tesfaye

Sophia Tesfaye is Salon's Deputy Politics Editor and resides in Washington, D.C. You can find her on Twitter at @SophiaTesfaye.

MORE FROM Sophia TesfayeFOLLOW @SophiaTesfaye

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