Javier Ortiz couldn’t hide from Beyoncé.
Like many police officers, he skipped the Super Bowl half-time show in which she performed her new hit “Formation”—a song he and his peers see as anti-police. But, flipping through the channels on his television one day, it struck: Ortiz, the head of a Miami police union, stumbled across her music video.
He didn’t like what he saw and, now, he and fellow officers are calling for a boycott of the superstar’s “Formation” world tour, which kicks off on April 27 at Miami’s Marlins Park Stadium.
“The fact that Beyoncé used this year’s Super Bowl to divide Americans by promoting the Black Panthers and her antipolice message shows how she does not support law enforcement,” Ortiz, the outspoken president of the Miami Fraternal Order of Police, wrote in a press release posted online.
If she won’t support them, he said, they shouldn’t support her.
The union voted to have all officers boycott her shows, the statement read. But it didn’t make clear whether that meant not attending her shows or not staffing them. Ortiz did not respond to inquiries, but a City of Miami Police Department spokeswoman said there is no doubt that the event will be adequately policed.
Concerts and other events are typically staffed on a voluntary basis by some portion of the city’s 1,400 officers, spokeswoman Officer Frederica Burden said. Other departments can help, too, if no one comes forward, but that is highly unlikely.
“We’ve never had an issue like that,” she said.
The same is true in Tampa, which will host Beyonce’s second show two days later, Tampa Police Department spokeswoman Andrea Davis said.
“It will be staffed. We’ve had stuff like this come up before and it’s always staffed. We’ve had the [Republican National Convention], we’ve had all kinds of things,” Davis said. She also refuted a local report that Tampa officers weren’t signing up to man the show, noting that it’s still early and there are roughly 1,000 officers there.
But that doesn’t mean police are happy. In Florida, and across the country, Beyoncé ‘s video and Super Bowl performance have drawn the ire of police.
“A lot of our members are still quite upset with the division that’s being projected,” said James Preston, the president of the Florida State Fraternal Order of Police, which has about 20,000 members. That was the sentiment at a statewide meeting that ended last Saturday.
“They’re not willing to forgive just yet,” Preston said.
There are no statewide protests or rallies planned, he said, but the lack of action doesn’t translate to acceptance.
“The officers are pretty much fed up with the narrative that’s out there now that is anti-police across the nation,” Preston said, noting that such attitudes make it harder for officers to foster relationships with the communities they serve.
The primary theme of Beyoncé ‘s song and music video is that of black empowerment. But some police see it—the images displayed in the video and costumes worn during the performance—as an amplification of the Black Lives Matter movement, whose members believe blacks have been unfairly treated and sometimes unnecessarily targeted and killed by the police.
Law enforcement officials take offense to that message, generally, and Beyoncé’s music video and performance in particular.
As Ortiz notes in the release, the video features a hooded boy dancing before a line of officers dressed in riot gear, all of whom later join him in raising their hands—an apparent reference to the shooting death of Michael Brown. In teh days and weeks after his death, some believed Brown, who is black, had his hands up to surrender when he was shot dead by a white police officer in Ferguson, Mo. A federal investigation later concluded that was not the case.
Ortiz also took issue with the costumes Beyoncé and her dancers wore during the Super Bowl half-time show—an homage to the Black Panther Party of the civil rights era. He juxtaposed her apparent support of that movement with his own support of New York police officer Richard Rainey, who was injured decades ago in a shooting by black extremists that left his partner dead.
Contemporary reports identified the men who shot Rainey as members of the Black Liberation Army, whose ranks grew as the Black Panther Party declined.
Police groups have criticized the National Football League for allowing the performance during one of the most-watched television events in history, with that protest formally lodged in letters from a New Jersey police union and the National Sheriffs’ Association.
More than half of the 40 shows in Beyoncé ‘s “Formation” world tour are in the United States.