Civil rights group threatens boycott of Little Caesars ahead of Kid Rock arena shows


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The shows are scheduled, tens of thousands of people have bought tickets, and the pizzarena P.R. team has indicated it will not change course – but a civil rights group remains hopeful that it can get Kid Rock's upcoming shows at the new Little Caesars Arena canceled. If it doesn't succeed, the National Action Network's Michigan chapter says it will effort to stop plans for a Kid Rock-themed restaurant at the arena. And if that doesn't work, NAN-Michigan says it will mount a boycott campaign of all events at the site, which will play home to the Red Wings and Pistons and host major musical acts.

"If our voice is continuously ignored by Olympia [Entertainment] and Little Caesars, we’re definitely gonna launch a campaign that says we don’t want anymore hot and readies because we believe that Little Caesars is cold and wrong," NAN Michigan president Rev. Charles Williams II told Metro Times in an interview Thursday.

He spoke following a Wednesday news conference in which the group demanded for the first time that Olympia cancel the Kid Rock shows. At issue is the Romeo-born musician's association with hate symbols like the Confederate flag and his regular criticism of Colin Kaepernick, the former NFL player known for taking a knee during the national anthem as a civil rights protest (Kid Rock has on many occasions shouted "Fuck Colin Kaepernick" at his concerts, and most recently criticized the athlete during a performance Wednesday night). NAN-Michigan has a protest planned for Kid Rock's first show at the Little Caesars Arena on Tuesday.

Olympia selected Kid Rock as the inaugural act at the partially taxpayer funded arena, even though the city is 83 percent black. Freep columnist Stephen Henderson over the weekend called the move a "Middle finger to Detroiters."

"[Kid Rock has offered] a dog whistle or cat call to a base of people who are supporters of his that would be aligned with what is considered to be the alt-right, or white supremacists, or KKK," said Williams. "Why would he take his music or his pulpit and use that to further incite and incinerate what is happening in this country today in terms of race?"
Kid Rock will be taking the stage at the pizzarena a month after tiki torch-wielding white supremacists marched through the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia in protest of the removal of a Confederate monument. Eventually, one of those white supremacists hopped in a vehicle and ran over a group of counter-protesters, killing one of them.

But Williams emphasizes that his gripe is not with only Kid Rock, but the institutions that give him and people like him a voice. In this case, it is the Ilitch family-owned Olympia, which has not only defended its choice to have Kid Rock christen the stadium, but doubled down on the decision by giving the Kid real estate in the arena for an eatery — "Kid Rock's Made In Detroit" restaurant and bar.

"I’m not sure there’s much we can expect from [Olympia] in terms of canceling his shows, but we wanna make it known we don’t want the restaurant there," said Williams. He added that Olympia representatives have given some indication that they'd be open to meeting with the National Action Network to hear out its requests.

In a statement, Olympia defended giving Kid Rock a platform, calling him a "consistent supporter of Detroit."

"The marketplace has responded accordingly to his appearances," the company told MLive. "Performing artists' viewpoints in no way represent an endorsement of those viewpoints by Olympia Entertainment."

The National Action Network's Michigan chapter will protest in front of Kid Rock's "Made in Detroit" restaurant on Woodward Avenue at 6 p.m. on Sept. 12.

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