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Title: Few clash at Kid Rock concert as protesters, supporters wage war of words
Source: MLive
URL Source: http://www.mlive.com/news/detroit/i ... ock_protesters_counter-pr.html
Published: Sep 12, 2017
Author: Ben Solis
Post Date: 2017-09-13 10:15:38 by Deckard
Keywords: None
Views: 40

DETROIT - A protest organized on Tuesday night to oppose Kid Rock's first of six shows at Little Caesars Arena was poised to be a powder keg.

Threats of violence and the potential for pro-Confederate flag counter-protesters cropped up early on Sept. 12, stoking fears that the march starting at Grand Circus Park and ending at the new $836-million arena could get ugly.

But things remained civil, due in part to leaders advocating non-violence and a heavy Detroit police presence to deter bad actors.

Live updates from the Kid Rock protests at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit

Live updates from the Kid Rock protests at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit

The Kid Rock concert inaugurating the new Detroit Red Wings Little Caesars Arena opening Tuesday has become a flash point for deeper national conflict over race relations in America.

That's not to say it didn't have its share of altercations from people on both sides.

Before the march began about 5:45 p.m. Tuesday, a handful of Kid Rock supporters approached protesters in Detroit's Grand Circus Park, decked out in concert shirts. A war of words ensued, but neither side resorted to violence.

Among Kid Rock's supporters was a man who identified himself only as Salvatore, a Detroit native who now lives in Warren. He blamed one of the protest organizers, National Action Network Michigan chapter political adviser Sam Riddle, of exploiting the concert to promote himself and broaden Detroit's racial divide.

Detroit police eventually intervened and asked Salvatore to leave as the activists gathered before moving down Woodward Avenue toward the venue.

Salvatore would later be spotted near the Little Caesars Arena facing marchers with both arms and middle fingers extended in the air.

Alternate text if image doesn't load

While negative interactions between the pro- and anti-Kid Rock camps were few, there was a tense encounter when the march turned around on Woodward Avenue and began walking south near the entrance to Little Caesars Arena. 

They were greeted by a man - who identified himself only as James - facing them with a Confederate flag. James tied another flag around his neck. His T-shirt brandished the same Rebel flag iconography.

Some protesters became outraged, stopping to shout expletives at James as they walked by.

Earbuds draped down from the counter-protester's ears, his cellphone playing music loudly to drown the angry barrage of insults.

Police, at the conclusion of the march, said there had been no reports of violence.

The two-hour protest gathered a few hundred people, many members of Detroit's National Action Network branch and Black Lives Matter.

While there was no conflict with large groups of counter-protesters, a rumbling procession of motorcyclists, believed to be Kid Rock supporters, drove in the opposite direction passed the protest as it headed south on Woodward. 

Alternate text if image doesn't load

Civil rights groups began making plans to protest Rock's Sept. 12 concert last week. Many opposed Rock's prior use of the Confederate flag as a stage prop on tour.

The National Action Network also said the Ilitch family made a poor decision by booking Kid Rock, whose real name is Robert Ritchie, for a block of six shows opening Little Caesars Arena as a concert venue. The arena features a Kid Rock-themed restaurant on the ground floor.

Ritchie blasted the protest days earlier, calling organizers "garbage" members of the "extreme left."

Kid Rock blasts critics for politically-motivated calls to cancel Detroit concerts

Kid Rock blasts critics for politically-motivated calls to cancel Detroit concerts

Amid protests calling for his Little Caesars Arena-opening concerts to be cancelled, the Michigan musician went off on the "extreme left" during a obscenity-laced message posted to his website on Monday, Sept. 11.

Kid Rock protesters want Little Caesars Arena concerts cancelled

Kid Rock protesters want Little Caesars Arena concerts cancelled

The Michigan chapter of the National Action Network (MNAN) is expecting a large crowd to show up and protest Kid Rock's concerts at the Little Caesars Arena.

National Action Network Michigan chapter president Rev. Charles E. Williams led the march, along with Riddle.

A statement posted on Kid Rock's website Monday called Riddle a "criminal and prime example of a lot that is and has been wrong with Detroit."

Riddle was ensnared and convicted for his role in the Synagro sludge bribery scandal while working as an aide for ex-Detroit Councilwoman Monica Conyers in 2010.

Some protesters carried signs calling Ritchie a racist, while others called out the late Mike Ilitch for gentrifying Detroit.

Marchers began gathering at 5 p.m. with prayers and remarks from Williams and his father, the Rev. Charles Williams, Sr.

"We have come today to send a message to Mike and Chris Ilitch," Williams said.

"We have come today to send a message to Little Caesars ... and Kid Rock. We will not be disrespected ... with your hate speech. For far too long, many of us have had to deal with the ugly stain of racism and slavery.

"We know what that flag means and why you fly that flag. So you can tell me you love me all you want. You don't love me until you show me you love me."

Former state Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit) was also in attendance chanting: "No justice, No Pizza." The chant was used throughout the march, referencing the National Action Networks's ongoing boycott of Little Caesars pizza restaurants.

Williams and other protesters stopped to take a knee once they arrived at Little Caesars Arena. The move was in honor of NFL free agent Colin Kaepernick.

The quarterback protested police killings of unarmed black men similarly before games during the National Anthem. Ritchie said "(Expletive) Colin Kaepernick" at his recent Grand Rapids show in Van Andel Arena.

Kid Rock gets political during electric show at Van Andel Arena

Kid Rock gets political during electric show at Van Andel Arena

During a nearly 3-minute address, Kid Rock shared many of his political views through a rhyming speech which condemned Nazis, bigots, the KKK and anyone who "disrespects" the national anthem.

Williams and company responded by singing the National Anthem on Tuesday evening.

As Williams and the protesters reconvened at Grand Circus Park, he said his final remarks, asking the crowd "to go in peace."

Younger activists ignored the order, forming their own cohort of nearly 20 people, marching back to Little Caesars Arena. Their aim was to shame Kid Rock fans as they entered the building.

Detroit police and Wayne County Sheriff's deputies followed them, breaking up a number of shouting matches along the way.

Christian Kocis and Mike Antushivich, both 17 from Fraser, Michigan, were on their way to the concert before being met by protesters.

The teenagers wore President Donald Trump's signature crimson "Make America Great Again" hats. Kocis admitted that was probably a stupid move when a race-related protest was occurring downtown.

He viewed it as a way to start conversations. All he found on Tuesday were insults.

"I didn't expect much else, and I was happy that it stayed peaceful," Kocis said.

"I'm here for the conversation. If someone would have a laid out conversation with me, I'd appreciate that. But that's not what we found today. I think it's important for Americans to come together.

"Even if we have different opinions, we have to talk about it." (6 images)

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