A civil rights group plans to protest musician — and possible Michigan Senate candidate — Kid Rock's upcoming Detroit concerts, claiming that views held by the rocker on NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, coupled with his support of President Donald Trump, are "the straw that broke the camel's back."
The National Action Network’s Detroit chapter on Thursday called for the cancellation of Kid Rock's — who's real name is Robert Ritchie — series of concerts as the opening act for the new Little Caesars sports arena in Detroit.
Why the protests?
The National Action Network — a civil rights group founded by Rev. Al Sharpton — has taken issue with Kid Rock's support of Trump, the appearance of Confederate flags during some of his concerts, and attacks against national anthem protests.
The Des Moines Register reported that during a concert last month in Iowa, Kid Rock told fans that "football's about ready to start," and added, "You know what? F*** Colin Kaepernick."
During a show Wednesday, the rocker dismissed those who called him racist for his comments against Kaepernick and doubled down on his criticism of the movement of football players refusing to stand during the national anthem.
"If you want to take a knee or sit during our ‘Star-Spangled Banner,'" he said, "call me a racist cuz I’m not PC and think you have to remind me that Black Lives Matter."
Statements from NAN and others
The Rev. Charles Williams II, Michigan National Action Network president, issued a statement about Kid Rock's political rhetoric, calling the move to feature the musician as the opening act for the new sports arena in Detroit "the straw that broke the camel's back."
"When you hire Kid Rock, who is known to be dog-whistling and cat-calling to white supremacist organizations and the white supremacist community, 'alt-right,' whatever you want to call them, and you take our tax dollars to do that? That’s wrong," he said.
Peter Hammer, director of the Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights at Detroit's Wayne State University, weighed in and said that the move to feature Kid Rock at the new arena is "tone deaf."
"Everything is different post-Charlottesville," Hammer said. "These are moments where you have to act as a matter of character and state what your values are. Everything now is becoming symbolic. That means we have to choose our symbols carefully."
The arena, owned by Detroit's Downtown Development Company, will be the new home for the NHL's Red Wings team as well as the NBA's Pistons. The facility is managed by a company called Olympia Entertainment, which is owned by Ilitch Holdings.
Christopher Ilitch, the president and CEO of Ilitch Holdings, responded to the concern over Kid Rock's appearance at the new facility.
"While I can't control what any artist does or says, I can guide our businesses to continue bringing life-changing opportunities to people in our community," he said. "I will always demand that our companies strive to do right by Detroit, our community and its people."