Singer Rihanna’s free Freddie Gray concert was blocked by Baltimore police: reports
Singer had planned to walk with protesters and give free concert for 25-year-old African-American man who died in custody
Rihanna was reportedly blocked by Baltimore police from playing a free concert for Freddie Gray, the 25-year old African-American man who was fatally injured by six police officers in April.
According to newly released emails between police and the singer’s representatives, obtained by the Baltimore Sun , Rihanna wanted to go to Baltimore in the week after race-related rioting broke out to walk with protesters and perform a free concert.
In a message dated 1 May sent to Captain Eric Kowalczyk, the then head of media relations for Baltimore police, an officer detailed a conversation he had with a representative for the singer. He said the representative advised that Rihanna would arrive by plane and “in an effort to divert press/media she will be travelling to the city by train (or by car if necessary)”.
The officer added that the representative “had hoped to secure some extra police security and was directed by the governor’s office to seek assistance through communications”.
The email was forwarded to Anthony Vatts, the then Baltimore police commissioner, and Kevin Harris, a spokesman for the mayor of Baltimore, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.
The possible concert was also mentioned in a situation report on 1 May, which revealed the location to be the intersection of Pennsylvania and West North avenues, the focal point of the protests. “Possible Rihanna Concert at Penn & North,” it read. “No time given. Police are claiming they have no permit so it will not be allowed.”
A state of emergency was declared in Baltimore amid widespread civil unrest across the city following Gray’s death, which a medical examiner ruled was a result of spinal injuries inflicted by arresting officers. Criminal charges including murder and manslaughter have since been brought against the officers involved.
During the unrest, Rihanna posted on Instagram a picture taken by Baltimore photographer Devin Allen of a black police officer with tear-filled eyes. The picture was accompanied with a crying emoji.
Other musicians who expressed concern about the situation included Kelly Rowland, Gerard Way, and Prince, who played a show at the city’s Royal Farms Arena on 10 May. The concert, “Rally 4 Peace”, was broadcast live by Tidal, the livestreaming company backed by rapper Jay Z.
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