Extra! Extra! Ice-T and the Fraternal Order of Police exercise their constitutional rights!
The place to be on the evening of Monday, December 28, will be the Vic Theatre, 3145 N. Sheffield. That's where Ice-T's hardcore combo, Body Count, is going to be playing, and that's also where a hefty contingent of Chicago police officers will be out picketing to show what they think about the band's swingin' pop ditty "Cop Killer." "We just think it's a piece of shit," says Fraternal Order of Police prez John Dineen. "He's had his day in the sun and now we're going to come out and show our displeasure." In Chicago, as in other cities, off-duty cops will refuse to work as concert bouncers as well.
Concert security at the Vic, says Jam Productions' Nick Miller, generally consists of the venue's in-house squad and personnel brought in by Detente, Jam's usual security-squad contractor. Some percentage of both is off-duty police. (The promoter likes the arrangement because it keeps up good relations with the cops and provides reputable sources of communication between the security force and the police in the event of trouble.) If the boycott does go into effect, says Miller, he'll fill the security corps to its normal complement with noncops, and the show will go on. "If they plan to picket they're certainly within their rights," he says, "just as it's within Ice-T's rights to record the song. That's our system at work."
Indeed, the whole affair may just degenerate into a wholesome exercise in free-speech rights; it's even possible that concertgoers may hear the police complaining about cop killers outside, get Ice-T expatiating on the subject of police brutality inside, and ultimately have to do some thinking about the issue. (Just another example of the terrible influence these rap artists are having on our children.) LA rapper Ice-T is a freelance controversialist who's evolved impressively over the last few years. He's an extremely articulate political commentator and seems to be adventuresome musically, most notably in his experiment with Body Count, often miscategorized as a rap band but actually a thrashy heavy-metal crossover move. I don't think it's a particularly successful experiment, but it's undeniably interesting, and Ice-T scored a PR coup when national police organizations called for a boycott of Time Warner after news of the song "Cop Killer" filtered out. Time Warner, surprisingly, backed Ice-T, and no boycott transpired. But he eventually took the song off the record.
This doesn't ameliorate the offense, Dineen says, nor do such arguments about such art's having its roots in incidents of police brutality. What about the Rodney King beating? "Those officers may or may not have done something wrong," Dineen responds. "That affair is still going on, they're still on trial. Well, we're putting Ice-T on trial for this song. There are a lot of officers slain in the line of duty. You might say it's all just words, but [the song] may generate some opposition in people who don't feel that way to start with."
That's fair enough comment; cops do get killed in the line of duty, and it's even arguable that there are some nuts who, lacking the political agenda of the killer in Ice-T's song (he's out to "get even" for police brutality), don't need to be riled up with bloody anticop rhetoric. Chicagoans, of course, have an ongoing case that illustrates both sides of the debate nicely: three CPD officers remain on unpaid suspension as the police board investigates allegations that they tortured double cop-killer Andrew Wilson.
Dineen rather ominously referred in passing to a "reception" the downstate police were planning for the Body Count show at the Lafayette Club in Bloomington. There's been no word yet of picketing, reports Ian Goldberg of Event Management, the club's booker. Goldberg says that there was some flack from local politicians, and even some talk of the city and county governments canceling their annual Christmas parties, both held, ironically enough, at the club. This passed, and Goldberg says he's happy with the local department's commitment to increase patrols in the area the night of the show. Only problem: the show there is on Christmas night, and the forced overtime will take some of the local cops away from their families.
Help for Dizz
Local bluesman Lefty Dizz has throat cancer and no insurance; a benefit for him will be held Sunday at Buddy Guy's Legends. The $10 ticket gets you music from Guy, Junior Wells, Sugar Blue, the Kinsey Report, Lonnie Brooks, and a lot of other people, starting at 6 PM and going all night long. Call the club at 427-0333 for info.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Bruce Powell.