A Tennessee sheriff suggested Tuesday that an alleged rise in violence against police officers is directly related to pop star Beyoncé’s controversial recent Super Bowl halftime show performance and music video of “Formation.”
The music video, which features provocative images referencing Hurricane Katrina and the Black Lives Matter movement, has generated a lot of buzz and debate. Her Super Bowl performance, which included beret-clad back-up dancers in an homage to the Black Panthers, was attacked as “outrageous” by conservatives like former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and even sparked calls for a boycott of the singer.
On Monday, there were reports of eight shots fired outside the home of Rutherford County Sheriff Robert Arnold. When conducting a press conference on the incident Tuesday, Arnold floated the possibility that Beyoncé’s politically charged performances of late may have instigated the shooter. “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,” Arnold told reporters. “Here’s another target on law enforcement.”
WATCH: Did Beyonce go too far?
When pressed to clarify what he meant by his reference to the Super Bowl, Arnold replied: “Well you have Beyoncé’s video and how that’s kind of bled over into other things it seems like about law enforcement.”
Later, in an email to The Tennessean, Arnold said: “My comments reflect the violence and senseless killing of seven deputies in the U.S. since the show aired. My comments are an observation of the violence that has occurred but in no way is meant to offend anyone.” He reportedly included a link to the NRA’s website and added: “The senseless killing of four law enforcement officers just this week — on the heels of the anti-police “entertainment” at the Sunday Super Bowl halftime show — reminds us that the men and women in law enforcement take a solemn oath that includes putting their lives on the line every day to protect our citizens.”
Arnold is not the first to accuse Beyoncé of being anti-police in the aftermath of her Super Bowl performance and music video release. An anonymous petition calling for a protest outside of NFL headquarters in New York City on Tuesday, called her halftime show appearance a “race-baiting stunt.”
“Do you agree that it was a slap in the face to law enforcement? Do you agree that the Black Panthers was/is a hate group which should not be glorified?” reads the protest promotion on Eventbrite. “Come and let’s stand together. Let’s tell the NFL we don’t want hate speech & racism at the Superbowl ever again!” The message comes complete with the hashtags #BoycottBeyonce, #BlueLivesMatter and #AllLivesMatter. MSNBC has reached out to the organizer of the protest through the email provided on the site page, but has not heard back at this time.
But when Tuesday rolled around, the protest appeared to be a bust. According to The Cut, only three anti-Beyoncé protesters showed up at the NFL headquarters, and several hours apart. One of the three attendees confirmed that they are a volunteer for Sen. Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign, while another said they were only there because they have “many cop friends” and wanted to promote the fact that “there are bad cops who need to be thrown in jail. But there are good cops as well.”
Meanwhile, these few protesters were far outnumbered by Beyoncé fans staging a counter-demonstration. “I think the assumption is that the people supporting Beyoncé are like these superfans that are just gonna love her and support her no matter what she does. But I would have been out here no matter who the person was that did something like this, if they were attacked this way as a result,” Tajh Sutton, a member of the “Beyhive,” told The Cut.
Beyoncé characteristically has not commented publicly on the uproar over her latest work, which has detractors on the left as well. But she is in the midst of launching a “Formation” world tour. The tickets for the UK leg of the concert series sold out in just 30 minutes. All of her U.S. dates, according to a press release, have also sold out, although additional shows have been scheduled to accommodate fans.
As for Arnold, neither he nor his family was harmed in the shooting on Monday, but they were still shaken up. “For this to happen at my house, it bothers me tremendously because of the hurt it puts on the family” he said on Tuesday. An investigation into the shooting is still ongoing.