After having the plug pulled prematurely on the concert he was a part of last Saturday at the Bayou Boogaloo & Cajun Food Festival in Norfolk VA where authorities charged him with "abusive language" (apparently for uttering the lyrics "What the fuck" during one of his songs), Boots Riley of The Coup has issued a statement saying that the local authorities' charges against him are "racially motivated."
The obscure local Virginia law, on the books as # 18.2-416, has never before now been applied to a performer, nor has it been enforced against anyone in over 25 years. But yet the city of Norfok is determined in pressing forward with the charges against the visiting Oakland emcee.
"City Officials claim that they are making the statement that profanity will not be tolerated," said Boots Riley in a prepared statement sent out yesterday by his label. "Obviously, since no one has been charged with this in 26 years, profanity IS tolerated. The statement they are making is that the culture and the people they feel I represent won't be tolerated. I was already off stage; the man they asked to leave the stage was Trombone Shorty, another Black man who looks nothing like me."
"This happened at 10PM, and it was far from a 'family' atmosphere, most of the audience was intoxicated after drinking at the festival's bar -- 'The Missing Kidney.' There was also a VIP section where free alcohol was distributed by the keg. Anyone who has been to a music festival on a Saturday night understands the scene. I did not leave the park afterward, as was claimed by FestEvents, the organizers of the Bayou Boogaloo Festival. I stayed and debated the validity of the charge with police and festival promoters. It is clear that this is part of a larger debate that has nothing to do with profanity, one that is being dealt with nationwide. That debate is about racism, gentrification and the ownership of public space."