Protest set for Banton concert

Posted on 15 Oct 2009 at 6:13pm
By Rich Lopez | Staff Writer lopez@dallasvoice.com

Show rescheduled for Palm Beach Club in Deep Ellum after House of Blues cancels

Buju Banton

Resource Center Dallas and Equality March Texas have made plans to protest the concert of Jamaican reggae musician Buju Banton on Tuesday, Oct. 20. Efforts to cancel the show were largely ignored by the Palm Beach Club, the Deep Ellum venue hosting the show, protest organizers said. The club’s MySpace page has even stoked the controversy.

“Their site actually says ‘Let them protest,’” Rafael McDonnell said.

McDonnell is the strategic communications and programs manager for RCD. Upon hearing of Banton’s upcoming concert last week, the organization called for immediate action to urge the venue to stop the concert.

Attempts to reach the club, though, were never answered. Calls to Palm Beach Club by the Dallas Voice were not returned.

“I think it is unfortunate that they are not willing to discuss. They are giving the city a black eye for having this show. And they actually invited us to do it by posting that on their site,” Equality March Texas founder Daniel Cates said.

“They never answered our calls. We’re not sure they even wanted to,” McDonnell said.

In a final effort before protesting, they are organizing a letter writing campaign.

“Maybe if we fill their mailbox, they might listen,” McDonnell said.

Otherwise, both organizations have begun working out the details to protest in front of the club. According to Cates, members from Queer LiberAction as well as students from both University of North Texas and UT-Arlington have expressed interest in being there as well.

Cates said he sees this as an opportunity to educate the public.

“This can raise awareness in the community about hate speech. This isn’t a freedom of speech issue. Citing violence and murder is a criminal offense. It’s not so much more about Banton, but more about that kind of talk,” Cates said.

He also doesn’t intend to provoke concertgoers.

“I’m hoping for a peaceful protest. I would encourage everyone to stay out [of the club]. We don’t want any kind of violence,” he said.

Buju Banton originally had his show scheduled this month at the House of Blues. Sparked by LGBT activists, LiveNation dropped the tour. Activists in other cities have successfully pushed to have shows booked at smaller venues canceled after LiveNation pulled out.

Banton’s lyrics and rants have called for violence toward gay men, most notably on his song “Boom Bye Bye.”

Earlier this week, according to The Petrelis File blog, four San Franciscan LGBT advocates met with Banton and his reps regarding his music. The site mentioned it was his first meeting with the gay community. “I believe Buju fully understands that today’s meeting was a beneficial first step and that the gay community will want more concrete steps taken, before our actions against his concerts cease,” Michael Petrelis wrote.

However, in the posting’s previous paragraph, Petrelis wrote there was “little movement on Banton’s part.”

Information about the protest can be found at Equalitymarchtexas.org.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 16, 2009.

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