Rihanna's Freddie Gray concert was blocked by Baltimore police
Newly released emails between police and representatives for Rihanna show that the singer wanted to host a free concert honoring Freddie Gray but that police blocked her.
A week after the rioting broke out, Rihanna had planned to walk with protesters and host a concert, and it seems she was trying to get some police protection, but that ended up backfiring.
A message was sent to Captain Eric Kowalczyk, who was at the time the head of media relations for the police, saying that Rihanna would arrive by plane and then “in an effort to divert press/media she will be travelling to the city by train (or by car if necessary).”
Kowalczyk also noted that the representative “had hoped to secure some extra police security and was directed by the governor’s office to seek assistance through communications.”
The message was then sent on to Anthony Vatts, the then Baltimore police commissioner, and Kevin Harris, a spokesman for the mayor of Baltimore, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.
A situation report then later made note of the possible concert venue. “Possible Rihanna Concert at Penn & North,” it read. “No time given. Police are claiming they have no permit so it will not be allowed.”
Gray was a 25-year-old African-American man who was arrested by the Baltimore Police Department for possessing what the police alleged was an illegal switchblade. While being transported in a police van, Gray fell into a coma and was taken to a trauma center. Gray died on April 19, 2015 and his death was ascribed to injuries to his spinal cord. On April 21, 2015, pending an investigation of the incident, six Baltimore police officers were temporarily suspended with pay