Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2009

And We Thought Milwaukee Had Issues Booking Hip-Hop

By Evan Rytlewski
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The sad truth is that most cities have trouble with hip-hop shows. Fairly or not, the genre is seen as a liability for venue owners, and with the nasty press that follows any skirmish that takes place at a hip-hop event, it's hard to blame promoters for wanting to avoid the headache.

While Milwaukee has had its own issues keeping hip-hop nights downtown, they're minor compared to the ones in Madison. This week yet another Madison venue closed its doors to the genre following a late-night fight that gave way to a severe police crackdown. A clip from The Capital Times story:
The Brink Lounge is banning hip-hop shows indefinitely after 16 Madison police officers responded to a call from a Valentine's Day hip-hop party where a fight broke out close to bar time.

Security staff called the police but defused the fight before officers arrived at the near east side venue at 701 E. Washington Ave. Police said they arrested four people because they wouldn't leave after management closed the club. At least two party attendees, however, are accusing police of using excessive force and needless pepper spray during the arrests that followed.

 ... Madison hip-hop emcee Rob Dz said Monday afternoon that he had talked to his lawyer and was in the process of filing a complaint against police.

Dexter Patterson, who has organized hip-hop events at the Brink and elsewhere in the past, said the initial fight left no property damage or injuries and was between two people over "jealousy-type issues." Several others successfully broke it up, he added.

The irony in the situation, he said, is that "the only significant injury that night was caused by the hands of Madison police officers," not by people who attended the event. The police "elevated the tension in the building 100 times more than it was with the fight. It was very, very unprofessional."

The story goes on to detail Patterson's account of the evening. He claims police punched a woman in the face and pepper-sprayed and assaulted Rob Dz, injuring his shoulder.

The story seems believable enough: Speaking as someone who knows Rob, it's hard to imagine someone with such a gentle temperament being anything but compliant with police. But whether the police or a couple of rowdy drunkards are to blame makes no difference. Each incident like this makes it harder and harder for the city to host future hip-hop shows.

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