Editorial: Why the different standard for hip-hop concertgoers in Nassau?

Editorial: Why the different standard for hip-hop concertgoers in Nassau?

In the end, Hot 97’s Summer Jam, an annual hip-hop festival, took place Sunday despite Nassau County’s last-minute effort to ban part of it.

The question is why did Nassau County attempt to ban the outdoor portion of the concert in the first place.

The administration of County Executive Bruce Blakeman had on Thursday – three days before the event was scheduled to take place –  filed a suit to stop an outdoor concert associated with the annual event, scheduled at UBS Arena in Elmont.

Nassau County officials backed off the filing Friday after concert organizers said they would contribute $80,000 to cover the cost of the county Police Department’s role in policing the event.

The county’s court filing, which came more than a month after the concert was announced, cited security concerns, such as “riot-like behavior,” past “nuisances” and incendiary remarks against police at previous Summer Jams.

Did any of these problems take place in Nassau County? No.

The complaint cited incidents at a Summer Jam concert at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, where 60 arrests were made due to riot-like behavior.

That concert took place in 2015 – eight years ago. Another instance cited took place six years ago in 2017, also in New Jersey.

Bad language? At the 2022 Summer Jam at Madison Square Garden, Roddy Ricch provoked the cops when he led a “f### the police” chant after being busted on gun charges the day before his performance.

Well, in 1969, a Hells Angel hired by the Rolling Stones for their Altamont concert fatally stabbed a Black concertgoer who was armed in front of Mick Jagger. Three other people died of accidental deaths that night and still others were injured by debris hurled by the Hells Angels.

Has Blakeman banned rock concerts in Nassau County as a result? Actually, the county recently hosted rock idol and Long Beach resident Joan Jett in a concert here. Blakeman announced Nassau is back in celebration.

So what’s different?

Blakeman defended his action with Summer Jam in a press release, saying there were “security issues that were presented to the county that have now been addressed in an amicable way between the promoters, the arena and the Nassau County Police.”

“My job is to make sure that all communities are protected, and in this case my primary concern is the beautiful hamlet of Elmont,” said Blakeman, a Republican.

But if the annual concert posed such a threat, why did Blakeman wait until three days before the event was to take place before trying to ban part of it? He was aware of the event for more than a month.

Didn’t he risk having a large crowd of people angered when they showed up only to learn the event was canceled? How does that promote public safety?

Nassau County Legislator Carrié Solages (D–Lawrence) had a different explanation for the proposed ban, its timing and the language of the country’s filing – race.

“The harmful stereotyping contained within those papers is deeply insulting to the Black and brown communities that form a large portion of hip-hop’s dedicated fan base, and the dog-whistle rhetoric alluding to ‘riot-like behavior’ is particularly offensive,” Solages said of the complaint filed by the county.

Solages, one of four people of color in the Nassau County Legislature, said he believed that Blakeman’s “primary motivation was to exploit this event so that he can score political points with the extreme MAGA wing of his base.”

He added that “this is the second time in little more than a week that County Executive Blakeman and his administration have used taxpayer-funded resources to engage in actions that fanned the flames of racial animus and exploited hot-button issues.”

Solages was referring to Blakeman traveling to New York City to hold a rally in support of a former Marine from West Islip arrested for the chokehold death on a subway car of a homeless 30-year-old man suffering from mental illness.

The man who died, Jordan Neely, was Black. The Suffolk County resident, Daniel Perry, is white.

Blakeman has joined several Republican candidates for office, among others, to take up the cause of Perry, who was charged a week after the fatal subway incident with manslaughter. Blakeman said he staged the rally to protect Nassau County residents traveling to New York City for work and play.

Video shows and first-hand accounts said Neely was shouting but did not physically attack anyone. The New York City medical examiner’s office said the cause of death was compression of the neck and ruled it a homicide.

At his rally, Blakeman criticized Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg for prosecuting Penny.

This was actually the second time that Blakeman criticized Bragg, who is black.

He called the expected indictment of former President Trump on 34 felony counts “political and malicious prosecution” – five days before it was announced by Bragg.

For her part, Solages struck a diplomatic tone following the concert.

“Now that the unnecessary drama has subsided,” the legislator said he intended to call for a meeting between Nassau County, Town of Hempstead, and UBS Arena officials to address “security, parking, environmental, and other quality-of-life concerns related to future events at UBS Arena.”

The UBS arena opened in October 2021 as the home of the NHL’s New York Islanders and has already welcomed numerous top artists, including Sebastian Maniscalco, Billie Eilish, Dua Lipa, The Eagles, John Mayer, Kendrick Lamar and Post Malone.

Security, parking, environmental, and other quality-of-life concerns have already had an exhaustive review both before and after the UBS arena opened.

So we are not sure what another round of review will do other than prevent similar problems with hip-hop concerts in the future.

But it couldn’t hurt. And perhaps it will answer the question of why people attending hip-hop concerts in Nassau are treated differently than everyone else.

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