Promoter cancels Laval hip-hop festival over security concerns at request of police
Local rapper calls it an example of authorities cracking down on music they don't understand
The promoter behind a hip-hop music festival in Laval has cancelled the event after police raised concerns about public security.
"Hip-hop music, rap and the visual arts are the fundamental raison d'être of the festival and will continue to be so in the future," the promoter, Co-motion, said in a statement.
The LVL UP Lab Numérique et Musique festival was scheduled for Sept. 16 to 19 at the Quadrilatère Montmorency.
Cancelling the event was a hard decision to make, the statement says, "but the health and safety of fans, artists, partners and employees is at the heart of the organization's concerns and cannot be put at risk."
Ticket holders will be reimbursed and the artists, which include Larry Kidd, Maky Lavender and Steve Breezy, will be remunerated, the statement says.
CBC reached out to several artists scheduled to appear in the festival but had not heard back at the time of publication.
Co-motion says a donation will also be made to Fondation du Centre jeunesse de Laval, a local youth advocacy group.
Police chief blames rise in gang and gun violence
Laval police Chief Insp. Jean-François Roussell defended the decision on Friday, saying there has been 32 shooting incidents this year alone.
"It's a really preoccupying phenomenon," he said. "We noticed that some of these artists were promoting firearm culture and this type of culture is attracting a lot of criminal individuals from the street gangs."
He said there is a lot of conflict between street gangs, and there was no other solution than to ask Co-motion to cancel the event.
Roussell said the decision is not intended to target any type of music. The focus, he explained, is on the artists who are promoting gun culture. However, he declined to say which artists in particular he was alluding to.
"Some of the artists are claiming to be related to some of the street gangs," said Roussell, noting metal detectors aren't 100 per cent effective against violence. "Our main concern is to avoid any innocent victims on site."
The City of Laval announced last month a $1.2 million investment in combating the recent gun violence on its territory.
Musician says police chief's comments are 'ignorant'
After nearly a decade in the rap game, Montreal musician Brandon Doret wasn't surprised to learn Laval authorities are cancelling an upcoming hip-hop festival in the name of public security.
He said it's another example of people in power cracking down on a music genre they don't understand.
"Hip hop has historically been criticized inaccurately and specifically by people who don't consume it," said Doret. "The unfortunate thing is that some of these people are able to jeopardize the experience of others."
Doret said the chief inspector's comments were "ignorant and insulting not only to the artists, but to their fans."
"I think the powers that be need to recognize this as being a very prestigious art," he said. "These are artists. These are poets. They need to be treated with respect and not tainted as threats to society."
Regardless, Doret said the genre will continue to thrive regardless of such decisions.
"There's always been detractors from hip-hop," he said. "But look at what hip-hop is today. It's the most consumed music in the world and, culturally, the most influential."
with files from Derek Marinos