There are reportedly several Pittsburgh police officers refusing to work security for Beyoncé’s May 31 concert at Heinz Field, due to what they call the singer’s anti-police lyrics in her latest Black Lives Matter-themed album, “Lemonade.” But city officials may force those officers to provide security for the show.
“There are police officers that have expressed that they do not want to support an artist that they don’t like what she has to say,” said Robert Swartzwelder, president of the Fraternal Order of the Police Lodge No. 1. “It’s up to them what they want to do with their off-duty time.”
Concert venues, like Heinz Field, usually ask city officials to provide off-duty police officers to work security or direct traffic at an event. The choice to work these events is usually each police officer’s to make.
However, a memorandum to officers from the City of Pittsburgh Bureau of Police says the city may appoint between 29 to 35 officers to work at the concert if they don’t recruit enough volunteers.
Swartzwelder said the city’s plan would be in direct breach of the contract agreement between the city of Pittsburgh and the police department. Such a move would force the Fraternal Order of the Police to file an unfair labor practice complaint on behalf of its member officers.
Beyoncé’s Black Panther tribute Super Bowl performance and the music video for “Formation” were both replete with anti-police propaganda. In the music video for “Formation,” Beyoncé is seen sitting on a sinking police car. Another scene shows a graffitied wall with the words “Stop Shooting Us.”
After Beyoncé’s anti-police Super Bowl performance — of which former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani said the singer “used as a platform to attack police officers” — the hashtag #BoycottBeyoncé began trending on social media.
Last February, the Miami Fraternal Order of Police announced a boycott of Beyoncé’s concert where her “Formation” world tour would be kicking off. Similar calls to boycott Beyoncé were lodged from Tampa, Florida to Texas.
Earlier this month, members from several police organizations, including the Pasadena Police Department and the Coalition for Police and Sheriffs, held a protest near Beyoncé’s concert in Houston, Texas.
Already aware of the criticisms of her music, Beyoncé upped the ante last month and decided to sell “Boycott Beyoncé” merchandise, including T-shirts, cellphone cases, and hats.
As for her upcoming concert in Pittsburg, the city’s Chief of police, Cameron McLay, says he is unaware of a police boycott.
“Quite frankly, I’ve been regularly checking with my staff, involved with planning, working with the law department to stay within the parameters of collective bargaining agreement, and my last understanding was we had the event staffed to our satisfaction,” said Chief McLay.
“It’s our duty to protect everyone,” Chief McLay added. “So, I would be dismayed, I haven’t heard that, and I’m confident that will turn out to be just another bad rumor.”