Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan has vowed to provide protection to pop star Beyoncé after at least one police union pledged to boycott the singer in the wake of her politically and racially charged halftime performance at the Super Bowl earlier this month.
Farrakhan delivered a sermon in Detroit Sunday on the last day of the Nation of Islam’s annual convention, telling a packed audience at the Joe Louis Arena that “white folks” didn’t “know how to deal with” Beyoncé’s halftime performance, which featured a tribute to the militant (and often anti-law enforcement) Black Panther Party.
“She started talking all that black stuff… and white folks were like, ‘We don’t know how to deal with that,’” Farrakhan said, according to TMZ. “Look at how you treatin’ Beyoncé now. You gonna picket. You not gonna offer her police protection. But the FOI [Fruit of Islam, the group’s security team] will.”
Last week, the Miami Fraternal Order of Police announced it would boycott the singer’s April 26 concert in the city.
“While Beyoncé’ physically saluted the 50th anniversary of the Black Panthers movement at the Super Bowl, I salute NYPD Officer Richard Rainey, who succumbed to his injuries on February 16, 2016 from being shot by two Black Panthers who he had pulled over in a traffic stop,” Miami FOP President Javier Ortiz said in a statement.
The police union’s boycott followed news that local Tampa Bay police officers had refused to sign up to provide security for Beyoncé’s upcoming concert in that city. Local police often provide security at area events to earn extra money while off-duty, but none had signed up last week in the wake of the controversial halftime show.
In his two-and-a-half-hour sermon, Farrakhan urged Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan to award city contracts to African-American workers: “Mr. Mayor … you got black people in Detroit that are wise and intelligent,” Farrakhan said, according to the Detroit Free Press. “You would become a favorite of black people if you gave us some of the contracts that you’re giving to people less qualified. Let some of us become millionaires.”
Farrakhan reportedly drew loud cheers when he defended Beyoncé and praised rappers Kendrick Lamar and Kanye West for speaking up about social issues. He later described himself as “the freest black man in the world.”
“I don’t answer to no cracker. I don’t answer to no Mecca or Medina or Rome…I’m a free black man,” Farrakhan reportedly said. “I’m free because they can’t buy me.”