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Police Shut Down Hologram Concert Of Rapper Because They Don't Like His Lyrics; Pretty Clear First Amendment Problem

from the that's-not-how-this-works dept

The Chicago Tribune has a disturbing story about how the police in Hammond Indiana shut down an entire music festival because they didn't like a particular rapper, Chief Keef, who appeared via hologram (supposedly to avoid arrest for some outstanding warrants in the mid-west). The police don't even try to come up with some other bogus reason. They flat out admit that they didn't want Keef to perform and thus they shut it down:
Hammond police Cmdr. Pat Vicari said the promoters were warned the concert would be shut down if Chief Keef performed.

"We spoke to the promoter several times, and they assured us (Chief Keef) would not be performing," Vicari said. "Later, an officer working the show realized it was being streamed on one of the hip-hop sites, and promoters were warned again they would be shut down.”
Why? Because apparently politicians don't like his lyrics:
Thomas M. McDermott Jr., the mayor of Hammond, said in an interview that his office became aware of the surprise performance, which was also streamed live online, through social media. All of the Craze Fest acts — which included Riff Raff, Lil Bibby and Tink — had been previously vetted because the event was held at a public park, he said.

“I know nothing about Chief Keef,” Mayor McDermott, 46, said. “All I’d heard was he has a lot of songs about gangs and shooting people — a history that’s anti-cop, pro-gang and pro-drug use. He’s been basically outlawed in Chicago, and we’re not going to let you circumvent Mayor Emanuel by going next door.”
The reference to Mayor Emanuel was to Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel blocking a similar concert in Chicago a week earlier, when Emanuel's office declared Keef "an unacceptable role model." Because, apparently, in Chicago, you're only allowed to be a role model if the mayor's office gives its stamp of approval:
Last weekend, a Chicago theater called off a similar show after representatives for Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office deemed Chief Keef “an unacceptable role model,” whose music “promotes violence” and whose presence via hologram “posed a significant public safety risk.”
Here's the really crazy part, though. The concert itself was to protest violence, and was called a "Stop the Killing" benefit concert, in an effort to raise money for the families of two people that Keef knew who were recently killed in a shooting.

As Eugene Volokh notes, it's difficult to see how this is anything but a First Amendment violation.
The government may impose reasonable content-neutral restrictions on speech in such venues, such as sound level restrictions, and may charge money for the use of the venues. But the government may not restrict speech because of its viewpoint, or the viewpoint that the speakers had expressed elsewhere, which seems to have happened here
He further points out that the "public safety" risk claims are not an acceptable reason to shut down the event either, pointing to Terminiello v. Chicago. Even beyond that, there were no reports of any actual threats or public safety issues at the event itself. And yes, Keef may have outstanding warrants, which would make it perfectly reasonable to have him arrested if he did show up, it still doesn't explain why the concert was shut down.
Unless I’m missing something here, then, this is a pretty clear First Amendment violation on the part of the City of Hammond. And it seems to me that, in America, performances by controversial singers can’t be “basically outlawed,” even “in Chicago.
It will be interesting to see if Keef does anything about this. The hologram appearance was coordinated by Hologram USA, the company owned by wacky publicity hound billionaire Alki David, whose antics we've discussed in relation to his Aereo-clone streaming TV service FilmOn (not surprisingly, the concert was also being streamed live via... FilmOn). David immediately lashed out at the shutting down of the concert and rightly called out the First Amendment violation:
"Shame on the mayor and police chief of Hammond for shutting down a voice that can create positive change in a community in desperate need. And for taking away money that could have gone to help the victims' families," David said in a statement. "This was a legal event and there was no justification to shut it down besides your glaring disregard for the first amendment right to free speech.
Some have argued that Keef intentionally uses conflicts like this to get more publicity to market himself -- and even if it's true that doesn't matter. Even if Keef is truly a horrible person in every way, the First Amendment isn't supposed to only protect the speech of "good people." It's supposed to protect everyone. And yet it's amazing how quickly some in power forget this.

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  • icon
    S. T. Stone (profile), 27 Jul 2015 @ 4:08pm

    Perhaps Mayor McDermott and Commander Vicari have a future in rap themselves. Rap loves its controversial lawbreakers, after all.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Jul 2015 @ 4:17pm

    I think we should follow the Youtube example and make them take a course on the Constitution. After 3 strikes you're no longer allowed to hold office.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    avideogameplayer, 27 Jul 2015 @ 4:18pm

    It doesn't matter now...the message is clear...I'M IN CHARGE!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Sheogorath (profile), 27 Jul 2015 @ 4:24pm

    Will Commander Vicari ban Eminem from performing in Hammond for promoting violence against women? If not, then he's a fucking hypocrite.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Jul 2015 @ 4:32pm

    What about that disgusting "rock and roll"?

    Can we get that banned too while we're at it?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 Jul 2015 @ 4:45pm

      Re: What about that disgusting "rock and roll"?

      Rock n Roll... how about a murderer that wasn't arrest? He even wrote a confession claiming it was selfdefence but he never went to trial.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      David, 28 Jul 2015 @ 12:06am

      Re: What about that disgusting "rock and roll"?

      Tricky. It's barely a quarter of 106 miles to Chicago we are talking about here.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Jul 2015 @ 9:43am

      Re: What about that disgusting "rock and roll"?

      What about that disgusting "rock and roll"?
      “Speaking for the Council, the Mayor reiterated that the city did not condone rock festivals.”

                  ——Newport v Fact Concerts (1981)

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Jul 2015 @ 4:35pm

    oh and that damned depressing Country Music, its all about dogs dieing, trucks dieing and wives/girlfriends leaving, its just so sad and depressing.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Jul 2015 @ 4:43pm

    >Police Shut Down Hologram Concert

    Living in the future is disappointingly lame.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Jul 2015 @ 4:54pm

    Reson for shutdown

    "And yes, Keef may have outstanding warrants, which would make it perfectly reasonable to have him arrested if he did show up, it still doesn't explain why the concert was shut down. "

    It's obvious! Keef had outstanding warrants and isn't allowed to be in that area. By displaying Keef the hologram projector was clearly commiting a crime and had to be arrested. Without that machine the concert couldn't go on so it was shut down.

    Just wait for the case.. Hammond vs a hologram projector. Ok that sounded stranger/funnier in my head but while writing I remembered US vs a house or a box of toys. Strange world, we can create light that can be touched and what we do is sueing objects.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 Jul 2015 @ 6:37pm

      Re: Reson for shutdown

      I think the most frequently cited absurd case name is United States v. Article Consisting of 50,000 Cardboard Boxes More or Less, Each Containing One Pair of Clacker Balls.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 Jul 2015 @ 7:49pm

      Re: Reson for shutdown

      I almost expect to see that case in tomorrow's news. We've already had the Government VS Dotcom's stuff after all...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Jul 2015 @ 5:02pm

    Same old same old, nothing to see here, move along...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Jul 2015 @ 7:08pm

    Even if Keef is truly a horrible person in every way, the First Amendment isn't supposed to only protect the speech of "good people." It's supposed to protect everyone.

    I would actually argue it's more important to protect the "bad people". It's meaningless if if it doesn't: why would uncontroversial speech need protection?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Jul 2015 @ 9:41pm

    The problem is that people in charge of enforcing the law

    have no fear of breaking it. It's a whack-a-mole problem. IF, and it's a big if, the pols get whacked (in the sense of being punished via our system of laws) for their contempt and violations of the Constitution, in one place, another pol somewhere else does it, and there is never any consequence for them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Mark Wing, 27 Jul 2015 @ 9:58pm

    At least those guys go to bed every night knowing they are keeping the world safe from holograms.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Jul 2015 @ 11:33pm

    With the overall quality of warrants described on TD, these ones can't be that outstanding.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    I love Cartmanbrah, 28 Jul 2015 @ 12:48am

    Cartmanbrah

    and WHERE is the mention to southpark's tupac hologram?
    Please correct this article a.s.a.p. adding the mention and link to the video.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    OBAMAFAN, 28 Jul 2015 @ 12:51am

    thats raicis!!!
    This white hacker "SNOW"den is allowed to appear everywhere but tupac's hologram is arrested because he is a black hologram?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Jeff Green (profile), 28 Jul 2015 @ 2:28am

    Is it not time for a simple act of congress "The egregious breach of the constitution act". Imposing the personal liability and civil penalties on any official who blatantly abuses is or her powers in contravention of the constitution.

    The only way to make people this bad think is to make their misdeeds hurt their own circumstances. It wouldn't need to be imposed very often by the courts to have a rapidly chilling effect on the nutters.

    Then after this proves effective it could be extended to FOIA blockers

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Jul 2015 @ 11:09am

      Re:

      Is it not time for a simple act of congress "The egregious breach of the constitution act".
      Civil Rights Act of 1866
      The Civil Rights Act of 1866, 14 Stat. 27-30, enacted April 9, 1866, was the first United States federal law to define US citizenship and affirmed that all citizens were equally protected by the law. . . .

      John Bingham and some other congressmen argued that Congress did not yet have sufficient constitutional power to enact this law. Following passage of the Fourteenth Amendment in 1868, Congress reenacted the 1866 Act in 1870. . . .

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Violynne (profile), 28 Jul 2015 @ 3:03am

    The concert promoters could have easily have avoided this whole fiasco by installing red light cameras at the venue.

    Instead, they moved to Indiana, learning nothing about the state lead by one Governor Mike Pence.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    DerekCurrie (profile), 28 Jul 2015 @ 3:22am

    Not Hologram: Pepper's Ghost. It's done with mirrors.

    Just to be a techno nagging nelly: None of the 'hologram' stage performances done have had anything to do with actual holography. None of them.

    The technology is formally called 'Pepper's Ghost and is performed with light and mirrors. It was first formally performed in 1862 and has a history dating back to the 1500s.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pepper's_ghost

    vs

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holography

    No, it's not OK to mislead people with wrong terminology. Research your subject.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    me@me.net, 28 Jul 2015 @ 3:55am

    fuzzy area

    If the permit for the venue prohibted the guy from performing it doesnt sound so cut and dry. That said, why not just move the venue.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Sheogorath (profile), 28 Jul 2015 @ 7:56am

      Re: fuzzy area

      There was no prohibition of performance at the venue by any artist, but even if there was, there was no prohibition on the venue of displaying what would essentially have been a live video in 3D.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Jul 2015 @ 9:42am

      Re: fuzzy area

      The promoters were clearly going for the extra publicity this would create.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Jul 2015 @ 11:02am

      Re: fuzzy area

      … the permit for the venue …
      Southeastern Promotions v Conrad (1975)
      Respondents' action here is indistinguishable in its censoring effect from the official actions consistently identified as prior restraints in a long line of this Court's decisions. . . .

      Invariably, the Court has felt obliged to condemn systems in which the exercise of such authority was not bounded by precise and clear standards. . . . .

      In each of the cited cases the prior restraint was embedded in the licensing system itself, operating without acceptable standards.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Teamchaos (profile), 28 Jul 2015 @ 6:26am

    I read some of Chief Keef's lyrics. They seem to be about what we used to call, 'sex, drugs, and rock and roll'. Which the cops have been cracking down on since the 50's. The more things change ...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Jul 2015 @ 7:20am

    "...we're not going to let you circumvent Mayor Emanuel by going next door."

    Excuse me Mr. McDermott, but who the hell do you think you are in "not letting" anyone exercise their rights just because you and your Chicago-mayor-accomplice don't like this rapper or his message. You both should be removed from your elected positions immediately as you are not fit to reside in such a capacity not to mention that you've set a dangerous precedent in disregarding such a right under the guise of public safety.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Jul 2015 @ 8:15am

    Keef can't come to Chicago, since there are warrants out for his arrest.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Jul 2015 @ 9:33am

    Surely not a good decision from the local gov. But to state "..shutting down a voice that can create positive change.." is a joke.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Uriel-238 (profile), 28 Jul 2015 @ 12:10pm

      It was a charity performance.

      So since the admission prices are allegedly going towards positive change (we'll assume that the aggrieved families are getting the proceeds) then any voice that is part of the performance is creating positive change.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 28 Jul 2015 @ 12:49pm

        Re: It was a charity performance.

        … any voice that is part of the performance is creating positive change.
        Let there be no mistake about our belief that burning a cross in someone's front yard is reprehensible.

                    ——Justice Scalia, for the court, RAV v St Paul (1992)

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Uriel-238 (profile), 28 Jul 2015 @ 1:10pm

          Re: Re: It was a charity performance.

          We'll presume for the sake of the argument that the symbolic significance of a burning cross is recognized by all parties, and we're not going to concern ourselves with the hazards that come with fire.

          A burning cross is a symbol of hatred of and oppression of a racial minority.

          I'm pretty sure, even without knowing a single line of Chief Keef's lyrics that he's not preaching hatred and intolerance of a racial minority.

          More likely he's preaching hatred and intolerance of an oppressive authoritarian regime that is supposed to be in the service of the people. Given they keep gunning down Americans with impunity, it pisses me off too.

          And I'm not going to get into nuances of a situation where This burning cross, normally a symbol of racial intolerance, represents $70 per second it remains alight to be donated to the local department of education, up to 4,000,000 towards the effort of elevating our impoverished children towards a better future.

          Though it would make for an interesting discussion.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 28 Jul 2015 @ 1:42pm

            Re: Re: Re: It was a charity performance.

            We'll presume for the sake of the argument that the symbolic significance of a burning cross is recognized by all parties…
            In every culture, certain things acquire meaning well beyond what outsiders can comprehend. That goes for both the sacred, . . . and the profane.

                        ——Justice Thomas, dissenting in Virginia v Black (2003)

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              Uriel-238 (profile), 28 Jul 2015 @ 6:22pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: It was a charity performance.

              There are numerous folks in India who want their Swastika back.

              And plenty of people still find the pentacle offensive because to them it's Satanic, rather than neo-pagan.

              Numerous dissenting opinions we've seen in recent times have shattered the moral authority that might once have come from a SCOTUS Jurist. You might as well be quoting an SBC television evangelist or a game show host.

              Anyhow, my point was to presume for sake of that argument that a symbol was universally recognized and respected for a singular meaning.

              Now that we're raising the veracity of symbols, sacred or profane, I think the contemporary controversy over the modern displays of the Second Confederate Navy Jack (*) has demonstrated that even a prevailing symbol of hate speech can and will be tolerated, and its grotesquery denied when there is enough money, power or popularity behind it.

              It's a no-win situation. Absolute protection of freedom of speech will be used to protect hate speech and hate symbols. Protections from hate speech or symbols or offensive material (e.g. pornography, mutilation images, goatse, etc.) are going to be used to chill civil rights movements in those counties that don't like certain minorities, and yet, religious institutions will still be allowed to exercise hate-based practices and post hate speech, on the grounds that it is a religious institution.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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