JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- If you’ve been to Art Walk downtown, chances are you’ve seen a group of youth hip-hop artists, some as young as 5, performing out in the open.
The group Lyricist Live has been a staple at the walk for years. But a few days ago, they received a letter from the city telling them not to perform. The reason?
The ongoing debate over Confederate monuments in downtown.
Six years, four months and 76 consecutive shows downtown, not one single act of violence or fight at the Lyricist Live, according to organizer and founder Mal Jones.
But sometimes good behavior isn't rewarded.
A few days ago, the group received an email from the events manager for Art Walk and Downtown Vision.
They were not closing the streets this month, all outdoor performances canceled “in the case that a protest occurs for the Confederate statues in Hemming Park.”
The email reads: JSO wants to make it clear that there CANNOT be anyone set up on the sidewalks.
“They told us they wanted us to stay inside, close the doors and perform inside so that protesters protesting the monument downtown could stay there,” Jones said.
Jones says initially he disagreed with the decision made by the city to cancel outdoor performances but he now understands it’s out of safety concerns.
Jones took to Facebook to express his frustrations, from there the group decided to not cancel their monthly open mic performance but to move it to another location.
“I’m not afraid at all. I was warned by JSO that there could be issues, not sure what they’re hearing but I’m going to take heed to it because I have my kids out there. I’m not going to take that risk,” Jones said.
The Lyricist Live performance has been moved to the MOSH Planetarium from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Sept. 6.
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