PIQUA — The city of Piqua has taken responsibility for stopping the performance of controversial country music singer David Allan Coe at the upcoming Piqua BikeFest, citing safety concerns as the reasoning behind prohibiting Coe’s performance.
The city addressed the issue on their “Rumor and Trending Topics” page on their website under the question, “Is it true that the city stopped the performance of David Allan Coe at the BikeFest event?”
Underneath it, the city posted, “That is true.”
The post went on to explain that BikeFest, along with other public events, must “meet community standards” in order for the city to agree to close public streets and to issue permits allowing venues to utilize public space, saying:
“Since the inception of the BikeFest event four years ago, it has been designed by the BikeFest organization as a community event. As part of the city’s agreement with BikeFest to close public streets and areas for the event, the city maintains the right to review and approve entertainment and activities to ensure they are appropriate and meet community standards. This is true for all events conducted by organizations that request to use public space.”
The city maintained that the resident who spoke during the Piqua City Commission Tuesday evening, Joe Hinds, did not influence this decision and was not at fault. The city said that their decision was made prior to the commission meeting and the “comments of the citizen speaking against the performance at the City Commission had no bearing on the prior decision by the City Manager.”
Safety concerns arise
The city explained that City Manager Gary Huff decided that Coe was not an appropriate performer for a community event and “would create an unnecessary safety issue for the community” and informed the BikeFest committee of his decision.
“The scheduling of this particular performer was deemed not appropriate for the community by the City Manager who has the final approval on all special events planned for public property. The City Manager determined that this performance would create an unnecessary safety issue for the community and directed that the BikeFest Committee be informed of this decision which resulted in the action by the BikeFest Committee to cancel the performance. The City Manager’s decision was made and the BikeFest Committee was informed prior to the City Commission meeting of August 15th”
The full decision can be read on the city’s website at: http://bit.ly/2wZ0Ena
Huff provided a further statement Friday afternoon, reiterating that it was his decision to prohibit Coe’s performance and that it was made prior to the commission meeting. Huff cited safety concerns as his reasoning for doing so, suggesting that the “perceived prejudice or racism” in Coe’s background could have encouraged protests and counter-protests.
“The decision to schedule this performer by BikeFest in my view posed a safety threat in the form of possible confrontations for the community because of his past reputation of song writing and recordings,” Huff said. “First and foremost, there is no place in our community for this type of perceived prejudice or racism and having a performer with this background only invites and encourages protesters and counter-protesters unnecessarily to the event for the wrong reasons.”
Huff went on to say that the city encourages special events, but those events “should be welcoming to all members of our city.”
Piqua BikeFest also confirmed on their Facebook page that Coe will no longer be performing and that it was not the committee’s decision to remove him or Coe’s decision. The post added, “We are working diligently to find a replacement and will be released as soon as it is confirmed. The lineup will be amazing as always.”
Committee members were not available for further comment Friday.
‘Underground’ songs resurfacing
Controversy surrounding the singer arose when Coe’s past songs came to light during the commission meeting Tuesday evening. Piqua resident Joe Hinds came forward during public comment to denounce Coe’s songs as “racist.” Hinds went on to say that Coe was “unrepentant” about the “vile, racist, homophobic, and misogynistic songs” of his past as he is still selling and profiting from them.
While Coe may no longer perform those songs in public, Hinds objected to Coe’s “Underground” CD and other CDs being sold on Coe’s website. Those CDs include such song titles as “Kajun KKK,” including multiple uses of the n-word in lyrics like, “Ship those n****** back,” along with several graphic sexual innuendos. Hinds objected to Piqua BikeFest supporting a performer who also profits from the message of those CDs.
During the meeting, Mayor Kazy Hinds, while stressing that this controversy is “nothing against BikeFest,” said, “For our community and for it to be a community event, everybody needs to feel welcome, and our African American citizens would not.”
Other performers currently scheduled to appear at Piqua BikeFest, according to advertising, include Hollow, an Alice in Chains tribute band; Latter; Ithika; Strategy; and ReFlektion, featuring Piqua natives Jared and Justin Younce.
Reach Sam Wildow at firstname.lastname@example.org or (937) 451-3336