8:53 PM: The great Sarah B. sends the above video from the scene. It’s not a hundred people, but it’s definitely a ruckus! She says “About 5 cop cars” were there, with SFPD mingling with the crowd, until they got a call and all but one officer left the scene. She says that Supervisor Eric Mar was there briefly, before leaving.
8:34 PM: Richmondsfblog‘s Sarah B. is on the scene, and says that “the crowd (to see the show) is not building” though the event starts at 9. She says that though the Rockit room site lists tat-the-door tickets to this event at $35, they’re charging $40.
While we were on the phone with Sarah, she spoke with a man who was setting up for a protest led by Pollo Del Mar, who was responsible for bringing this show of Banton’s to light over the weekend. That man said that he was expecting “about a hundred people” to protest tonight’s show.
Sarah also noted that CBS5’s remote van was “parked out front with their antenna up.” So, if you’re curious to see what goes down tonight, their 11 PM news (there’s still 11 PM news, right? ) might be the way to go.
8:12 PM: Supervisor Bevan Dufty let us know that a meeting with Banton and members of the community did indeed take place this afternoon. Present were Dufty, Supervisor Mar, Michael Petrelis, Rebecca Rolfe, and Andrea Shorter. “It was a very emotional meeting” said Dufty, saying that Banton said this was the first time a gay group (“he sees us as this big monolith” noted Dufty) had met with him.
Dufty said Banton discussed his Rastafarian faith, and how homosexuality is not condoned in his culture. “I asked him to look into his religion” said Dufty “to find a better way than violence to deal with this.”
“I told the organizers that I wished they hadn’t booked him, but I was glad they did, so we could have this dialogue” Dufty said. According to Dufty, 2/3rds of Banton’s dates in the US are canceled due to public pressure. “To the best of my knowledge, he will be performing tonight, and I do believe people will be picketing.” The show starts at 9, so you still have some time to get down there.
2:03 PM: You might recall that after pressure from local and national civil rights groups, performances by “controversial”* dancehall performer Buju Banton were canceled. This included an October 10 stop at SF’s Regency Ballroom.
However, Banton’s reared his head again — on Saturday, it was reported that Banton will be playing the Rockit Room tonight in the Richmond District. Update: Appeal contributor Matt Baume reminds us that today also marks the 11th anniversary of Matthew Shepherd’s murder, which was said to be prompted because he was gay. It’s worth noting that the timing of having a singer who’s represented violent attitudes towards gay folks, performing in as gay a city as this one, on the anniversary of such a high-profile act of violence against someone for being gay, seems especially thoughtless. Perhaps SF Weekly’s Eric Arnold was unaware of this when he glowingly recommended Banton’s show?
Or will he perform? According to reports,after hearing from Supervisors Bevan Dufty (who represents Everything Gay) and Eric Mar (who represents the district occupied by the Rockit Room), management of the Rockit room “suggested a sit-down meeting between the performer and local LGBTQ leaders and representatives.”
According to Banton’s manager, Tracii McGregor, gay groups are typically unwilling to meet with Banton (perhaps concerned that he would shoot them in the head, as he said he would in his song?) they get “so much more mileage from harassing local promoters and venues and feeding their one-sided, sensational drivel about Buju to their community and to the media.”
However, as of this writing, a meeting has yet to take place between Banton and these leaders. According to a statement from Rockit Room booking manager Ben Thompson, no meeting means no show, saying “should Mr. Banton choose not to take this opportunity (to meet with gay leaders in SF), we will be compelled to cancel his performance.”
We’ve called Supervisor Dufty to see if a meeting is scheduled — perhaps happy hour is planned at Martuni’s? We’ve also called the Rockit Room to hear if the show is, indeed, not going on tonight (we’d also like to ask them what the thinking behind scheduling this guy is the first place, wouldn’t you?). Sorry to be so unsatisfying, we’ll update when we know more.
*in quotes because the “controversy” is that he performs a song advocating the murder of gay folk. As you can imagine, that seems less “controversial” and more “bigot” to many. Oh, whoops, is that “one sided, sensationalist drivel”? SORRY.