Oaklander Says Norfolk Charges Racially Motivated
Norfolk, VA – A music performance at the Bayou Boogaloo & Cajun Food Festival by Boots Riley, the well-known front man for The Coup, ended abruptly with police charges of “abusive language. The city is pressing forward with the charge – which the city is enforcing for the first time in 26 years.
Since the incident on June 21st, numerous false reports have emerged, and Riley is looking to set the record straight.
Riley claims the charges were racially motivated as they are part of a backlash from the recent Afr’Am Festival in Norfolk in which Gospel and R&B performances generated “noise complaints,” despite the performers adhering to the same decibel parameters as all of Norfolk’s other festivals. The Afr’Am fest has been the subject of controversy since, both festivals occurred at Towne Point Park, an area where high-priced condos have recently been built and an impending $11.5 million makeover is in the works.
“City Officials claim that they are making the statement that profanity will not be tolerated,” says Boots Riley. The statement they are making is that the culture and the people they feel I represent won’t be tolerated. 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.”
According to Boots, neither FestEvents nor the city indicated that swearing was a concern at this paid-admission festival. Additionally, the chorus of the only song Riley performs on Galactic’s album contains the phrase “What the F–k?”. There was never a “slew” of profanity as reports indicate, only a few words that were meant to flatter, explain a life situation, or used as a lyrical device to provoke positive thought.
Although Boots is on the road and unavailable for comment, his father Attorney Walter Wiley, told the Post that “Boots’ arrest is definitely an infringement on free speech and a constitutional violation of artistic expression, he added “the politics is in his (Boots) social commentary and he uses some language to enhance his political statement.”