The official reason given was similar to the Houston cancellation, citing electrical problems and crowd safety. Baltimore officials also maintained that the singer had not gotten permits from the city to show the video on the side of the building.
In a move to circumvent the cancellation, around nine o’clock that night Def Jam Records tweeted that a projection would take place on the Walters Art Museum, 45 minutes earlier than the original scheduled time. It looks like they may have succeeded in that the Twitter account of @Milly_Esquire posted several pictures that appeared to show that they had done it.
So apparently the tweet “Attention Baltimore: Let’s beat the cops. We are headed to the Bromo Seltzer tower. See you at 9:50!” that Deaf Jam posted at 9:40 was not in vain.
It is interesting to note that this is eerily similar to what happened in Houston, Texas. And it smacks of guerrilla warfare from the Baltimore Police. Just hours before West’s video “New Slaves” was to be beamed on the Bromo Seltzer tower, the Walters Art Museum and Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore Police tweeted that the event had been cancelled.
Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi confirmed that the cancellation was ordered by city officials who said that the organizers did not have proper permits. He also cited the use of electricity and anticipated crowds.
Guglielmi even made reference to the cancelled showings in Houston.
Baltimore and Houston were to be part of a second wave of screenings after West debuted the song on 66 buildings across the globe. And Kanye West’s New Slaves video was killed by the Baltimore police who, again, cited electrical problems as well as site permit issues.
It appears that the police in Houston, Texas have set a precedent in shutting down Kanye West’s “building screening” of his latest video for the song New Slaves. The Houston police even went so far as threatening to arrest fans who had gathered outside the city’s Rothko Chapel on Saturday night, waiting to watch the video for West’s latest song, New Slaves, which was going to be projected on to the chapel’s wall.
But if the fans did decide to face arrest in order to see the video, they did so in vain. It was the second weekend in a row that West had organised screenings of New Slaves at sites around the world, projecting the new video on the walls of major landmarks. On Friday, Saturday and Sunday there were events in more than 20 cities, including Manchester and Glasgow. In Houston, the rapper had scheduled three Saturday screenings, and none of them happened.
At the landmark Rothko Chapel dozens of “upbeat, respectful” fans were sent home by police, according to the Houston Chronicle. The Houston Police department drove up and, “pulled several cars on to the grass, flashed lights and sirens and demanded everyone leave or be arrested for trespassing. Folks slowly dispersed when it was clear this wasn’t part of the show.”
On the other side of Houston another screening never got off the ground and police prohibited organisers from proceeding with a third showing at the city’s Central Library. A source said, “Just as [the technician] was about to press play … the cops said no.”
While Houston and the Baltimore police have said the cancellations were due to issues of permits and public safety, some observers have wondered if the content of the song caused the authorities to intervene. So in two major cities in the US Kanye West has had his New Slaves video killed by the police. It appears that this might just happen again in a city near you.
By Michael Smith