Members of the Raleigh police union voted not to boycott security work for Beyoncé’s concert at Carter-Finley Stadium in May, according to a member who attended a monthly meeting of the union Tuesday night.
About 40 to 50 members of the Raleigh Police Protective Association were expected at the meeting, union spokesman Rick Armstrong said earlier.
The main focus of the meeting was the group’s advocacy for better pay for rank-and-file officers. The issue of whether union members should provide security for Beyoncé’s performance May 3 was added to the night’s agenda.
“We started hearing about the issue last week and saw that other police unions were going to boycott,” Armstrong said. “Several of our members expressed concern, so we decided to add it to the agenda.”
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Police unions in Miami, Tampa and Nashville, Tenn., have voted to not provide security for planned Beyoncé concerts in their cities after her Super Bowl halftime performance that honored the 50th anniversary of the Black Panther Party. Beyoncé performed with dancers who wore the black berets often associated with the Black Panthers.
Law enforcement leaders say the Black Panther Party was anti-police and akin to a terrorist group. The group started as armed citizens’ patrols to monitor the behavior of police officers and challenge police brutality in Oakland, Calif.
The police association’s membership of 530 officers represents about 80 percent of the Raleigh department’s sworn officers, Armstrong said. He said the office fielded phone calls and emails from members about the upcoming Beyoncé concert.
“We’ve been getting some calls from members who advocate a boycott, but the general consensus is, ‘We want to work,’” Armstrong said. He added that while officers may have personal feelings about the Black Panther tribute, the officers want to be professional and not choose a side in the issue.
“We want to protect and serve all the citizens of Raleigh, regardless of their personal beliefs,” he said.
The Black Panthers gained national attention on May 2, 1967, when its members showed up fully armed at the California General Assembly in Sacramento to protest a bill that would have outlawed carrying loaded weapons in public.
The group also sponsored a free breakfast program for children and other “survival” programs, such as clothing distribution, classes on politics and economics, free medical clinics, transportation to prisons for family members of inmates and sickle cell disease testing.
Javier Ortiz, president of Miami’s Fraternal Order of Police, ignited the police protests with a Feb. 17 letter that accused Beyoncé of using the Super Bowl “to divide Americans by promoting the Black Panthers” and said her “anti-police message shows that she does not support law enforcement.”
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani on Fox News described Beyoncé’s performance with Bruno Mars and Coldplay as an “attack on police officers,” who are the people “who protect and serve her and protect and serve us, and keep us alive.”
The Raleigh union’s meeting was not open to the public, Armstrong said.