Detroit sergeant’s Beyonce post stirs strong feelings
A Detroit police sergeant’s Facebook post connected to this year’s Super Bowl half-time show has sparked an investigation and drawn divided reactions across social media.
The controversy stemming from the unnamed officer allegedly contrasting singer Beyoncé’s costumed dancers to the Ku Klux Klan has sparked debate about free speech and what’s acceptable to post on a personal Facebook page. The text of the post read: “So if the dance troupe at the top is ok for this years’ half time show, then the one at the bottom should be ok for next years’, right?”
While the incident has stirred strong feelings, “that response must be balanced against the protection speech is entitled to by the First Amendment,” said Larry Dubin, a professor at the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law.
The sergeant remains on duty as the internal probe is conducted, Officer Dan Donakowski said Thursday night. The post, which drew complaints from other staffers as well as the public this week, has been removed and replaced with another message offering an apology, he said. Other details were not released.
“With an apology from the officer, the negative public response to his statement has seemingly awakened him to the inappropriate nature of his comment,” Dubin said Thursday. “What we then see is that social mores may be a more effective measure for the restraint of free speech than government action.”
The sergeant allegedly referenced Beyoncé’s controversial performance Sunday during the NFL Super Bowl 50 halftime show, Fox 2 reported Wednesday. Beyoncé’s dancers donned berets, sported Afros and wore all black, similar to the style of the Black Panther party. At one point, the dancers formed an “X” on the field, which some people took as a tribute to slain black activist Malcolm X. Beyoncé and her dancers also raised their fists to the sky, reminiscent of the black power salutes of the 1960-70s.
Reaction online was swift. Some supported the officer and spoke out about protecting free speech. “The Sergeant deserves a raise and commendation, not ‘investigation’ by the politically correct opinion police,” one person said on Twitter. But others disagreed with linking Beyonce’s performance to the KKK.
“The KKK literally killed people, right?” one person wrote on Facebook. “And the Black Panthers made sure kids got breakfast? Nice comparison.”
Police Chief James Craig denounced the post during an interview with Fox 2, saying: “This does not, and shouldn’t, represent our police officers.”
The Associated Press contributed.