The law enforcement backlash against Beyoncé has continued weeks after her politically charged Super Bowl halftime show performance.
Critics of the pop star have attacked her routine, which featured a squad of black women in Black Panther-inspired outfits, as anti-police, although there was not a single lyric in her song or aspect of her dance routine that distinctly referenced law enforcement. Prior to the Super Bowl, Beyoncé released a music video for her new track “Formation” that featured nods to the Black Lives Matter movement (a hoodie-clad boy inspires cops in riot gear to mimic the iconic ‘hands up, don’t shoot’ gesture popularized in Ferguson, Missouri, in the aftermath of Michael Brown’s shooting death) and the image of a sinking police car.
Beyoncé’s new political turn has led to calls for protests and boycotts, most recently by the president of the Miami police union. “The fact that Beyoncé used this year’s Super Bowl to divide Americans by promoting the Black Panthers and her anti-police message shows how she does not support law enforcement,” Fraternal Order of Police President Javier Ortiz wrote in news release this week. Although Ortiz says that he personally refused to watch her halftime show performance, he did take issue with her music video.
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“I challenge Beyoncé to review the 86-page report written by the United States Department of Justice on the death investigation of Michael Brown,” he added. “Hands up, don’t shoot was built on a lie.” He goes on to encourage his fellow officers in Miami and around the country to boycott shows on her new tour. But Ortiz’s call may be too little, too late. Beyoncé’s April 27 performance at Marlins Park in the city is already reportedly sold out.
According to the Miami New Times, Ortiz has been under fire for calling 12-year-old police shooting victim Tamir Rice a “thug” on social media and accusing an assistant chief of police of being Muslim for not holding her hand over her heart during the Pledge of Allegiance.
Meanwhile, other recent attempts to derail Beyoncé have fallen on largely deaf ears. A hyped protest against the singer outside of the NFL headquarters earlier this week was a dismal failure. According to The Cut, only three protesters showed up several hours apart, and they were outnumbered by pro-Beyoncé activists.
Later, a Tennessee sheriff blamed an alleged shooting outside of his home on anti-police fervor he believes was inflamed by Beyoncé’s Super Bowl performance. “With everything that’s happened since the Super Bowl, and with law enforcement as a whole. I think we’ve lost five to seven officers, five deputies, sheriffs since the Super Bowl,” Rutherford County Sheriff Robert Arnold told reporters. “Here’s another target on law enforcement.”
Despite pushback from some police, Beyoncé’s new tour is already a huge success. All the U.S. dates for the Formation tour, her first since 2013, have reportedly already sold out, with additional dates being added to meet the demand. However, in a sign that resistance from law enforcement may continue to dog her, there are reports that Tampa, Florida, police officers had at first not heeded requests to provide paid off-duty security for one of her upcoming shows there.
“We’re going to staff it because we have a responsibility to do that regardless of how controversial it might be, who the artist might be, or the politician might be,” Tampa Police Department spokesperson Steve Hegarty told the local Fox 13 affiliate. “This is a couple of months away, so we’ve still got plenty of time to fill those slots.” Since the original report, Tampa Police have said officers will work the event.