Baltimore police reportedly blocked free Rihanna protest concert
Rihanna is undeniably one of pop music’s most rebellious stars and she’s definitely had some socially conscious moments via her social media and songs like “American Oxygen.” But Rihanna was going to flex her activist might in a way that the world had never seen before with a planned protest concert in Baltimore, but it’s now been revealed that her efforts to perform were shot down by police before the plan could even get underway.
According to the Baltimore Sun, Rihanna wanted to hold a free concert in Baltimore in the week after rioting broke out following the tragic death of Freddie Grey, who was slain by six police officers while being held in police custody. Rihanna also wanted to walk with protestors in honor of Grey.
Earlier this week, an officer released emails from May 1 showing that a rep for the singer reached out to Capt. Eric Kowalczyk, then the head of media relations for Baltimore Police, to legally get the ball rolling on her free concert.
The representative “advised that Rihanna wants to walk with the protesters as well as perform a free concert,” the officer wrote. “He added that she will be arriving by plane and in an effort to divert press/media she will be traveling to the city by train (or by car if necessary).”
“[He] stated that they had hoped to secure some extra police security and was directed by the Governor’s office to seek assistance through Communications,” the officer added.
According to the report, an officer who was carbon copied on the email forwarded it to then-police commissioner Anthony Batts. Kowalczyk also passed the message along to Kevin Harris, a spokesman for Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.
Rihanna’s concert plans were also mentioned in a situation report dated on May 1 and the report indicates that the police may have stopped the concert from happening.
“Possible Rihanna Concert at Penn & North,” the update reads. “No time given. Police are claiming they have no permit so it will not be allowed.”
The plans for the concert were effectively brought to a halt and instead Prince ended up playing a show at the Royal Farms Arena on May 10, where he performed a new song that he wrote about the Baltimore uprising.
Although Rihanna didn’t get to perform or walk with protesters during the riots, she posted a picture taken by Baltimore photographer Devin Allen of a Black police officer with tear-filled eyes to her Instagram. She then captioned the photo with an emoji with a tear falling down its cheek.
We’re disappointed that Rihanna’s concert was blocked, but we’re at least happy that a pop star like her would think to flex her activist muscle for the benefit of her community.