HAMMOND, IL (CelebrityAccess) — A benefit concert by the Chicago rapper Chief Keef, which featured him performing 'live' in Hammond Indiana via hologram from California, was shut down by police after the event's promoters were warned by the mayor’s office that Keef could not appear, even digitally, promoters said on Sunday.
The cancellation was the second for Keef in as many weeks. Last week, A Chicago theater cancelled another hologram show under pressure from Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office which deemed Keef to be “an unacceptable role model,” whose music “promotes violence” and whose presence via hologram “posed a significant public safety risk.”
Keef's music has made reference to his gang-connected past. As well, he was previously sentenced to home confinement as a juvenile after pointing a gun at a police officer. He also served time in prison for violation of probation.
Hammond Mayor Thomas M. McDermott Jr. apparently took a page from Emanuel's book and moved to put the kibosh on Keef's appearance at Craze Fest after learning that Keef would be performing at the event, which took place in one of the city's parks.
“I know nothing about Chief Keef,” McDermott, told the New York Times. “All I’d heard was he has a lot of songs about gangs and shooting people — a history that’s anti-cop, pro-gang and pro-drug use. He’s been basically outlawed in Chicago, and we’re not going to let you circumvent Mayor Emanuel by going next door.”
In the lead up to the Hammond show, organizers tried to keep the location of Keef's performance secret and the advertising for the event included the tag line “Banned by the mayor of Chicago: Chief Keef, from a secret Chicago location.” After it was revealed to be Craze Fest in nearby Hammond, a rep from the Hammond police and the mayor's office visited the festival's promoter Malcolm Jones to ask if Keef was present, or if his music had been played.
According to The Times, Jones told the city officials that Keef was not present and would not be featured on stage.
However, around 10:30 PM, Keef's hologram took to the stage, prompting Hammond police to pull the plug on the event.
“It’s not like we’re anti-rap,” McDermott told The Times. “It’s just this specific case. Gang violence in Chicago is the reality right now, and I’m not going to invite someone that might be a threat to public safety.”
Alki David, chief executive of Hologram USA, which sponsors Chief Keef, said in a statement: “Shame on the mayor and police chief of Hammond for shutting down a voice that can create positive change in a community in desperate need. And for taking away money that could have gone to help the victims’ families.”
“This was a legal event and there was no justification to shut it down besides your glaring disregard for the First Amendment right to free speech,” he added. “Mark my words, if you censor us, you only make us stronger.” – Staff Writers