HAMMOND, Ind. — The mayor of Hammond who ordered a hologram concert by rapper Chief Keef shut down over the weekend says he did so because the artist has "basically been outlawed in Chicago."
“I know nothing about Chief Keef,” Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr., told the New York Times. “All I’d heard was he has a lot of songs about gangs and shooting people — a history that’s anti-cop, pro-gang and pro-drug use. He’s been basically outlawed in Chicago, and we’re not going to let you circumvent Mayor Emanuel by going next door.”
“It’s not like we’re anti-rap,” McDermott said. “It’s just this specific case. Gang violence in Chicago is the reality right now, and I’m not going to invite someone that might be a threat to public safety.”
After announcing that his concert would be held in "a secret location," the rapper appeared onstage via hologram Saturday night at Wolf Lake Pavilion in Hammond, according to media reports and witnesses. He performed at the tail end of Craze Fest, a day-long hip-hop festival that featured four other rappers, including Riff Raff and Chicago's Lil Bibby.
After the four announced performers played, a "brief video" was shown and an announcer asked for attendees to go to FilmOn.com and donate to the families of for 13-month-old Dillan Harris and 22-year-old Marvin "Capo" Carr, who were both killed July 11, according to an attendee who asked not to be named.
Police cars arrived with lights and sirens as Keef's performance began, the attendee said.
Keef's hologram appeared on stage, and the rapper made an appeal to "stop the violence, stop the killing, stop the nonsense — let the kids grow up."
Once Keef began his first song, police "ran to the stage" and "the venue went entirely black, the sound was cut, there were no lights. We were in the dark for several minutes," the attendee said, before the lights went back on and police cleared the venue.
Hammond police Cmdr. Pat Vicari told the Chicago Tribune that he warned the concert's promoters it would be shut down if Chief Keef, a Chicago native whose real name is Keith Cozart, went onstage.
Craze Fest organizer Malcolm Jones said he expected police to shut down the concert once Chief Keef went on, but only because his appearance had been leaked a few hours beforehand. Jones said the rapper's set was meant to be "a total surprise," in which case the police "would have been caught off guard without as much time to prepare."
"We wanted to show them that we could maintain peace and safety while giving out this 'stop the violence' message at the same time," said Jones, CEO of Capital Connect, the production company behind Craze Fest. "And it was a totally peaceful event — no violence, no arguments, nothing — right up until the moment the police ended it all."
The Hammond Police Department could not be reached for further comment Sunday.
The concert was originally planned for Redmoon Theater in East Pilsen, until city officials reportedly asked the venue to cancel, citing what they called a public safety risk.
Although the Saturday event was outside Chicago, concert backer Alki David blamed Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Hammond officials for the police action.
"Shame on the mayor and police chief of Hammond for shutting down a voice that can create positive change in a community in desperate need," said David, CEO of FilmOn, which recently signed Keef to a two-album deal and sponsored and produced the event.
"This was a legal event and there was no justification to shut it down besides your glaring disregard for the first amendment right to free speech. You've clearly been bullied by the proud Mayor of the Murder Capital of the U.S., Rahm Emanuel," David said.
For his part, Jones said the police deprived Chief Keef of a much-needed chance to "right his wrongs."
"Sometimes we look at people's past and get stuck in the mindset of all the wrong they've done, and I'm not denying [Chief Keef's] legal problems in Chicago," Jones said. "But when he tries to do the right thing — to go up and say 'stop the violence' and help its victims — that's when he gets banned? To me that's just unfair."
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