Black Show Promoters Accuse Syracuse Police Of Harassment

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Aerial of City and University of Syracuse, New York

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For Black concert promoters in Syracuse, New York, they’ve had enough of law enforcement interfering with their shows and are now speaking out against the treatment.

In an interview with a local news outlet, promoter Azariah Yemma of Upper Echelon Entertainment alleges that police officers regularly target venues and shows to shut them down. “Any Black establishment that does entertainment in this county — we get this every single time,” he said. “There’s not a time that we don’t go through this, and there’s never any good reason for it.” 

Yemma and others feel that the reasoning behind police interference is their perception of potential violence at the venues whenever Black Hip-Hop acts perform. “What [SPD] does is they come and try to scare the venues into shutting down. And then the venues pull the plug on us,” Yemma said in the interview. One example that was cited was when Lil Durk was slated to do a show at a local venue early last month. The Chicago rapper’s show was canceled, prompting the venue to issue this message on Facebook afterward: “The Oncenter regrets to announce that, due to extenuating circumstances the Lil Durk show … has been postponed.” The move compelled Hasan Hills, owner of HILLS ENTP CORP to speak out. “The unnamed rapper allegedly served time in prison for committing an unknown crime and has since left the street life behind him,” Hills said at the time. “You [SPD] just shut our whole concert down … because you don’t like him.”

Other high-profile rap shows reportedly shut down by police include two concert dates by Young Thug in 2021 with one being on New Year’s Eve, and one featuring Fetty Wap in 2015. The cancellations cost local promoters hundreds of thousands in lost revenue. It’s prompted the promoters to file legal action against the police department. “It’s really serious how much money is at stake,” said attorney Kevon Glickman, who is attached to the litigation.

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