Anti-Beyoncé Protest No-Show Turns Demonstration Into a Pro-Black Display
Early Tuesday morning, a scheduled Anti-Beyoncé protest in front of the NFL headquarters in Midtown, Manhattan showed no sign of such a demonstration. No protesters denouncing Beyoncé’s actions were apparent, but what the demonstration lacked in protesters, it made up in counter-protesters.
Last Sunday, Beyoncé caused some controversy with her performance during half-time at the largest annual commercial event in America, the Superbowl. She performed with rock band Coldplay as well as fellow pop-star Bruno Mars, but those two acts quickly fell to background as Beyoncé brought out dancers dressed in costumes inspired by the Black Panther Party, she herself wearing an homage to Michael Jackson. At one point her dancers formed an X, alluding to the late civil rights leader Malcom X. She ended her performance by holding up her fist in the symbol for the Black Power movement. Beyoncé’s pro-black display caused backlash from many conservative news sources. In the following days she was put under scrutiny for her, according to these news sources, racist display at America’s favorite sporting event.
A group called Proud of Our Blues set up a protest in New York City in front of the NFL headquarters calling for a public apology from the National Football League, demanding that its officials apologize for bringing anti-police and anti-white imagery, lyrics, and messages into the living rooms of millions of Americans. The NFL has yet to issue such an apology as of the writing of this article. It was reported that a total of 3 anti-Beyoncé protesters showed up. At it’s peak there were roughly 30 to 40 counter protesters, many of them bearing signs on which they had written Beyoncé’s lyrics, Black Lives Matter, or other pro-black language to that effect.
One of the three people who showed up to demonstrate against Beyoncé was Ariel Kohane, a middle-aged man toting picket signs with messages about police men and women deserving more money, and denouncing de Blasio.
“It didn’t belong in the Superbowl,” Kohane said, surrounded by press and counter-protesters, “this has nothing to do with football at all. It’s not the way that they’re going to bridge the gaps between police officers and civilians and whites and blacks”.
He went on to say that Beyoncé’s lyrics in her new song were offensive towards police, as were her Black Panther inspired costumes. He later admitted that he did not know the lyrics, that this was just something that he had heard.
Kohane criticized the Black Lives Matter movement, claiming that they “have chants calling for the assassination of white police officers,” but again failed to cite an example of this or a time when the chant’s orders were carried out, or how many police officers have died as a result stating that he doesn’t “ know the exact number, but we can all look them up,”. Kohane spoke to about 30 counter protesters who kept questions coming at him left and right. The discussion did not stay focused on Beyoncé’s show. Kohane adressed the issues he took with the perception of police officers among the public, suggesting that there is not a race problem within the police forces of the country but “you do have the occasional police officers who have done things to black people which are very inappropriate and wrong and they should be terminated immediately”.
A man who asked not to be named because he was supposed to be at work at the time, said that he was “astounded” at the reaction to the Superbowl performance and said that those who were offended “can’t quit articulate how they feel”. He goes on mockingly, “I mean they were cool with Coldplay, but then, uh oh, here she comes, there’s not one white dancer, all of them have afros, my daughter is dancing to this? Oh my god!”.
Counter-protester Eno Kesse, said that “as a black woman [she] was proud that [Beyoncé] was praising her broad nose and her daughters natural hair,” referring to Formation, Beyoncé’s newest single and the song performed during Halftime. She expressed her confusion about the offense taken to the Black Panther Party imagery, as this was a group who was primarily active for less than 20 years, who’s main purpose was to protect their communities, while the Ku Klux Klan is an organization dating back to the mid 1800’s and is still active today. “We did not have the police officers defending us,” Kesse said, “so our fathers, our brothers, our uncles, our cousins, they had to figure out a way to defend us within our own community”.
In the end, what was a scheduled anti-Beyoncé demonstration turned into a pro-black, Beyoncé-inspired display. The man who missed work to attend summed it up in his own words, laughing, “it’s really one against one hundred, and it’s really kind of pathetic”.