A Memphis rapper is supposed to perform in Arkansas tonight but elected officials exerted last-minute efforts to block the concert, citing public safety concerns as past performances of the artist have been marked with violence including shootings.
The concert was supposed to start at 10 p.m. tonight at iHeart Media Metroplex Live, 10800 Colonel Glenn Road. Police Chief Kenton Buckner, for his part, however, has been raising concerns about the concert a week ago. He wrote to the concert producers on October 5 and brought up the three shooting incidents that took place in the recent appearances by rapper Demario White Jr., better known by his stage name Moneybagg Yo, in other states.
It didn’t help the rapper’s cause that he has ties with Ricky Hampton, the Memphis-based rapper who was performing at a downtown Little Rock club in July when a gunfire broke out, resulting to the injuries of 25 concert watchers. City officials are wary of such ties, especially with social media reports saying the two performers have an ongoing beef with each other.
Making matters worse is that Mayor Mark Stodola and city directors only learned about the concert late Thursday afternoon after concluding an all-day budget workshop. The mayor was unhappy that he and the board were not informed prior hand about the live performance of Moneybagg Yo.
Stodola has expressed his displeasure for not being “briefed earlier” about the concert, which he thinks is a “pretty dumb thing to book”, not just because of the nature of the concert but the string of violence accompanying recent performances of the given artist, and also the nature of the city still reeling from the aftermath of the July shooting.
Stodola and other city officials wasted no time contacting concert organizers to call off the concert. They even considered two viable options to block the performance- petitioning a circuit judge for an injunction on grounds of a public safety threat or sending a cease-and-desist letter to concert organizers.
Buckner have also already raised in his letter the issue of the venue lacking adequate security plans. Initial plans of concert organizers have it that they intent to hire 10 off0duty police officers to provide security at the venue which has a capacity of 2, 500. Buckner said they believe the number is so “wholly inadequate.”
Nevertheless, Buckner said he was satisfied with the additional security measures willing to be undertaken for the event, but that he understands the mayor and local officials’ concerns.
Recent performances of Moneybagg Yo were marked with shooting incidents.
While White’s representatives have yet to speak on the issue, the performer has taken to Twitter to express how he feels about the cancellation of his concert. He first tweeted: “Sorry Arkansas they canceled the show.” Then he followed that up with: “I’m just misunderstood, that’s the story of my life.”
IHeart Media corporate offices and managers got visibly upset with the last minute cancellation.
But local officials stood their ground not to let young people sacrifice their security and put at risk the reputation of the city again just “to hear a fool like Moneybagg Yo.”
Officials were even willing to issue an injunction for the concert not to push through.