Wednesday, December 13, 2017
Public safety

Tampa police union supports boycott of Beyoncé's music but doesn't tell members not to work her Tampa concert

TAMPA — Beyoncé sparked a backlash after the release of the video for her new single Formation and her performance of the song at the Super Bowl. Critics say both have fueled a growing national hostility toward police.

Law enforcement officials have expressed their displeasure to reporters and in online forums. But there's another way for cops to give Bey the cold shoulder: boycott her concerts and even refuse to work lucrative off-duty security details at the shows.

It's already happening in Miami, where the Fraternal Order of Police voted to boycott the pop star's April 27 concert at Marlins Park and is urging other law enforcement labor unions across the country to join them.

So what about Tampa, where Queen B will land two days later for a show at Raymond James Stadium?

Vinny Gericitano, president of the Tampa Police Benevolent Association, said the union isn't planning on boycotting security detail and it's up to officers whether they volunteer for the extra duty.

"They're not happy with her political views and I think we as an organization should boycott certainly the purchase of her music and the attendance at her concerts," he said.

But come show time, he said, "we're going to do a great job and it's going to be properly policed."

Tampa police spokesman Steve Hegarty denied a published report that not a single officer has volunteered for the show, saying more than a dozen have already stepped up and the list is growing every day.

"It's still two months away," he said. "We wouldn't expect all the slots to be filled at this point for an event in April," he said.

Thursday afternoon, the department tweeted on the matter:

(As Beyoncé's loyal subjects pointed out, her collective fanbase is known as the "Beyhive," but TPD made its point.)

Off-duty officers are paid $34 an hour to work special events and the wage is paid by the venue, not the department, Hegarty said. Several factors go into an officer's decision to work and in some cases, personal feelings about the event or performer — in this case, bad feelings about Beyoncé — might be one of them.

"I don't doubt some people are making a decision that way but as far as a boycott, I haven't heard anything and our union hasn't said anything," Hegarty said.

At least some local cops are fired up, judging from posts in the Tampa Police Department section of the online forum leoaffairs.com.

"PBA and the membership needs to send a strong message to the community and Beyoncé that we will not stand for this and to boycott all off-duty jobs associated with her," one anonymous commentor wrote. "Make the department adjust, but under no circumstances should anyone sign up to work those jobs. Just like when NYPD turned their backs on their mayor, we need to unite and send a clear message that TPD does not stand for this."

The Hillsborough Sheriff's Office also works events at Raymond James Stadium. Deputies are not represented by a union, but sheriff's spokeswoman Cristal Nunez said officials have not heard of any plans for deputies to boycott the show.

Music critics have called Formation one of the most politically charged releases of Beyoncé's career.

"You will hear a lot in the coming days about what a socio-political statement Beyoncé made with Formation, but the truth is most of this is coming not from the lyrics, but the video," Tampa Bay Times pop music critic Jay Cridlin wrote after the surprise release of the video on Feb. 6.

The five-minute video opens with the pop star perched on the top of a New Orleans police car partially submerged in floodwaters. As the video unfolds, the water slowly rises and, in the climax, drowns them both.

Perhaps even more controversial is a scene Cridlin described as "a tableau of Black Lives Matter protestation." In the scene, a young boy in a black hooded sweatshirt is confronted by a line of police officers in riot gear. When the boy raises his hands over his head, the officers do, too. The camera then pans across a wall spray-painted with the words: "Stop shooting us."

During the Super Bowl performance of the song, Beyoncé and her back-up dancers donned black costumes that some said recalled those worn by the Black Panther Party, a revolutionary organization formed in the 1960s in response to police brutality and that sometimes committed violent acts.

"It's inciting bad behavior," National Sheriffs' Association Executive Director Jonathan Thompson told the Washington Post this week. "Art is one thing, but yelling fire in a crowded theater is an entirely different one."

That sentiment is fueling the Miami boycott, according to a press release from Miami FOP president Javier Ortiz.

"The fact that Beyoncé used this year's Super Bowl to divide Americans by promoting the Black Panthers and her antipolice message shows how she does not support law enforcement," Ortiz said in the release. "We ask all law enforcement labor organizations to join our boycott across the country and to boycott all of her concerts."

If Tampa police do fall short for Beyoncé's show, the department could seek assistance from law enforcement agencies in other jurisdictions, which happens regularly, Hegarty said.

"Bottom line: We'll staff the event," Hegarty said.

Contact Tony Marrero at [email protected] or (813) 226-3374. Follow @tmarrerotimes on Twitter.

Comments

Woman, 54, killed while crossing U.S. 19 in Hudson

HUDSON — A Hudson woman died Tuesday evening after being struck by a car while crossing U.S. 19 near Babson Avenue, according to Florida Highway Patrol.Patricia Lynn Pla, 54, was crossing U.S. 19 westbound about 6:10 p.m. when troopers said she was s...
Updated: 1 hour ago
St. Pete losing two assistant police chiefs; one will join Rays

St. Pete losing two assistant police chiefs; one will join Rays

ST. PETERSBURG — Two assistant police chiefs are stepping down next month, leaving two of the three second-in-command jobs vacant at the St. Petersburg Police Department.Assistant Chief Jim Previtera announced this week that he will resign from the d...
Updated: 11 hours ago

Tampa forum focuses on reforming Florida’s juvenile justice system

TAMPA — Changing the way Florida treats juvenile offenders was the focus of Monday night’s forum on criminal justice reform."We send more children to adult prison than any other state," said Raymer Maguire IV, manager of the ACLU’s Florida Campaign f...
Published: 12/12/17
Buchanan Middle aide used Instagram to seek nude photos, sex from students, deputies say

Buchanan Middle aide used Instagram to seek nude photos, sex from students, deputies say

TAMPA — A 24-year-old aide at Buchanan Middle School was arrested Monday and charged with using Instagram to ask for sex and nude photos from female students at the school, deputies said.Between Sept. 1 and the time of his arrest, Quinton J. Bradford...
Published: 12/12/17
New tracking system could help put a dent in juvenile car theft epidemic

New tracking system could help put a dent in juvenile car theft epidemic

LAKE MARY — Hundreds more juveniles who steal cars each year could be kept off the streets under a new tool approved by a Department of Juvenile Justice committee Tuesday, a move that could put a dent in a dangerous local car theft epidemic.Secretary...
Published: 12/12/17
Tampa police looking for Plant City girl, 15, considered to be in danger

Tampa police looking for Plant City girl, 15, considered to be in danger

TAMPA — Police were searching Tuesday for a missing 15-year-old Plant City girl who disappeared from a Tampa girls school.Zoe Warren was last seen about 8 a.m. Monday at the PACE Center for Girls, 1933 E. Hillsborough Ave., where she attends school, ...
Published: 12/12/17
Largo man arrested after passenger falls out of minivan and dies

Largo man arrested after passenger falls out of minivan and dies

PLANT CITY — A Largo man struck a pedestrian with a minivan last Friday, authorities said. Five minutes later, his female passenger was fatally struck by on-coming traffic after falling out of the vehicle.Plant City police arrested Todd Charles Riggs...
Published: 12/12/17

Police searching for robber who hit three North Tampa hotels

TAMPA — Police believe the same armed man committed early morning robberies at three North Tampa hotels within half a mile of one another, the latest just before 4 a.m. Tuesday.In the latest heist, the robber pointed a gun at a clerk in the West Wing...
Published: 12/12/17
Fire at Tampa townhome complex caused by faulty air-conditioner unit

Fire at Tampa townhome complex caused by faulty air-conditioner unit

TAMPA — A malfunctioning air conditioning unit sparked the fire that damaged several homes at the Brookshire Townhomes on Monday, authorities said.Investigators concluded the fire started on the back patio of unit B103 when the power supply of a cond...
Published: 12/12/17

Plant City boy, 12, dies in Mulberry crash as car turns into path of semi

MULBERRY — A 12-year-old Plant City boy died Tuesday when the car he was riding in turned into the path of a semitrailer on State Road 60, authorities said. Miguel Resendiz was riding in an eastbound BMW 328xi when its driver, 29-year-old Maricela Re...
Published: 12/12/17