Sen Morimoto’s livestream set pulled by city of Chicago over criticism of Mayor Lightfoot
Genre-defying Chicago artist Sen Morimoto was scheduled to perform with another local songwriter, Tasha, on Millennium Park's At Home livestream concert series on Thursday night (7/23). Instead of the performance, however, the series posted a message on social media shortly after 7 PM.
Later on Thursday night, Sen posted a statement on Twitter explaining the cancellation, saying it was because his performance video included a statement criticizing Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot for her lack of action in moving to defund the police. Sen says he was asked to take the statement out of the video, but wouldn't. He also included an updated statement, "having had some time to reflect." Read it in full below:
My performance has been pulled from the lineup because of a statement I made in the video concerning Mayor Lightfoot's actions in response to the protests currently happening in Chicago. I was asked to remove the statement, otherwise the video would be pulled and I was not comfortable censoring my criticism of the mayor at the request of the City of Chicago.
The statement was as follows: "...I would like to add my extreme disappointment in the lack of action that has been taken by Mayor lightfoot and our elected officials here in response to some 100,000 protestors in Chicago demanding the police be defunded and CPAC enacted. We're not even seeing the same bare minimum changes that are being made in New York, Minneapolis, and Seattle. We have a lot of catching up to do."
The performance was filmed a couple weeks ago and having had some time to reflect, I would like to rephrase. Not only is Mayor Lightfoot's refusal to support the process of defunding police and removing them from schools corrupt in motive and violent in consequence, the police force's increased physical violence towards protestors, and growing militarization are clear signs that the mayor is entirely aware of the massive number of Chicagoans demanding police be defunded, contrary to her previous claim that "not a single person" she has spoken to want fewer police.
The city has spoken loudly and clearly. Any response that doesn't take steps to defund and redistribute the police budget into Chicago's south and west sides' communities speaks volumes to where Mayor Lightfoot's loyalty lies. I stand with the people of Chicago, demanding more from our city Government.
Tasha asked that her performance be pulled as well, in solidarity with Sen:
Hi all. In solidarity with Sen I've asked DCASE to pull my set from tonights Millennium Park live stream. Their decision to remove Sen's set from the line-up is blatant censorship to protect Lori Lightfoot's name, and that's not the side I want to be on. Our mayor has proven to us that she values profit, property, and police over our lives and safety, and artists must be able to use their platform to make that known.
The set I recorded is very special to me, and my team and I will make sure we find a way for you to see it in the future.
Love you. Fuck 12.
In a statement in response, Chicago's Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events wrote that the Millennium Park at Home series "is not intended to provide a platform for public discourse and debate, which is why DCASE requested the personal viewpoints of one of our participating artists" be removed. Here's their statement in full:
Mayor Lightfoot and DCASE honor artistic freedom and uphold free speech. the "Millennium Park at Home" virtual concert series was created as a platform to showcase local music, support musicians and engage audiences during this difficult time. It is not intended to provide a platform for public discourse and debate, which is why DCASE requested the personal viewpoints of one of our participating artists, Sen Morimoto, to be removed from a pre-recorded introduction to the concert. Both of our featured artists, including Tasha, instead asked us to remove their entire music performance, which we of course accommodated. Both artists were paid per our agreements. Since April, DCASE has booked more than 65 local musicians for its new, reimagined events -- and has of course supported local artist relief.
"I did not ask for the performance to be removed," Sen tweeted in response. "I was told to remove any mention of the mayor from my statement, or allow them to edit out my statement, or have the performance removed altogether. I told them I wasn’t comfortable editing or removing my statement."