Houston’s NRG Stadium was Saturday night’s stop for Beyoncé’s “Formation” tour. While Bey was playing to an enthusiastic audience of thousands, a police advocacy group was outside protesting her. She has been vocal about the killing of black children and teens. This, the police group “reasoned,” means that the singer is against the police. Because absolutism.
The group — who call themselves the Coalition of Police and Sheriffs (COPS) — shone a bright blue light at the stadium about a mile away. This was to protest Beyoncé’s supposed “anti-police” message, according to spokesman Tony Ragsdale. No doubt a reference to her “Black Panther” Super Bowl performance and her video for the song, “Formation.” The latter shows a New Orleans police car being inundated with water among images of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. How that could be seen as “anti-police” is a puzzler. Maybe it’s this message, buried deep within the video:
That’s not exactly “anti-police.” It’s anti-brutality, anti-killing young black men. Of course, some people view that as “anti-police,” being unable to see both sides.
The backlash over Bey’s Super Bowl performance went so far as to threaten security for her “Formation” tour. The Miami Police boycotted the show in that city, as did the New York City police. Luckily, there were no incidents because of a lack of police presence and Beyoncé’s security team, along with venue security, were up to the task of keeping everyone safe.
Beyoncé has addressed this herself. In a recent interview with Elle magazine, she stated:
… anyone who perceives my message as anti-police is completely mistaken. I have so much admiration and respect for officers and the families of the officers who sacrifice themselves to keeps us safe. But let’s be clear: I am against police brutality and injustice. Those are two separate things.
They are two separate things. One can decry one without belittling the other. Jon Stewart explained this dichotomy brilliantly a few years ago:
You can truly grieve for every officer who’s been lost in the line of duty in this country, and still be troubled by cases of police overreach, those two ideas are not mutually exclusive. You can have great regard for law enforcement and still want them to be held to high standards.
To turn a blind eye to police brutality is to admit that one is not paying attention. Police brutality exists. The examples are many and varied. Innocent people have been beaten and killed, many of them unarmed, many of them not even suspects. Police shoot an average of two people every day, three times more blacks than anyone else. They shoot the mentally ill. And, 98% of the time, they are not punished.
There is a problem here. When the people see the police as adversaries, and when the police see every citizen as a suspect, that’s a problem. Part of Beyoncé’s job as an artist is to shine a light on this, to point at wrongs and say, “This needs to be fixed.” She did that. It is the right of COPS to protest what she said. But it shouldn’t stop there. This issue needs to be faced, discussed and solved and everyone needs to be involved.
Here’s a report from KHOU:
Featured Image by Frank Micelotta/Parkwood Entertainment via Getty Images