(Reuters) - Police unions in Nashville, Tampa and Miami are urging officers not to volunteer to work security at pop star Beyonce’s upcoming concerts in those cities, because of what they say was an anti-police message when she performed at the Super Bowl.
Beyonce sparked controversy with a televised performance that referenced the issue of police killings of black men and made a perceived homage to the Black Panther Party, which was formed in 1966 and whose platform included a call to end police brutality. Some of its members were convicted of murdering police officers.
Danny Hale, president of the Nashville Fraternal Order of Police, or FOP, said Beyonce has every right to support the Black Lives Matter movement that has sprung up to protest police shootings of black men, but said she went too far with the Super Bowl performance.
“If you throw up the Black Panther Party as some sort of positive message, that is an anti-policing message. The Black Panther Party has always been anti-policing,” Hale told Reuters in a telephone interview.
The halftime show at the Super Bowl, the National Football League championship, is traditionally one of the most watched television events of the year in the United States. This near nearly 112 million people watched the game.
Beyonce performed her new single “Formation,” a power anthem to race and feminism. Her video for the song depicts graffiti that reads “stop shooting us,” suggestive of the Black Lives Matter movement. In the live performance her female dancers wore black berets, seen as a Black Panther reference.
Leaders of the Tampa and Miami FOP sent the same message to their members on Thursday, urging officers not to sign up for overtime shifts working security at Beyonce’s concerts.
Police departments in all three cities said if they do not get volunteer officers to work at the concerts, they will mandate shifts in order to provide public security, according to local media reports.
Hale said the boycott was meant to send a message as opposed to leaving the concerts with no security.
“Ultimately, the police department, for public safety purposes, will have to mandate officers to work,” Hale said. “We’re professional and will do the job.”
A publicist for Beyonce did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Beyonce is scheduled to play Miami on April 27, Tampa on April 29 and Nashville on May 5.
Reporting by Fiona Ortiz in Chicago; Editing by Leslie Adler