Dr. Dre Makes Good On Threat
The U.S. District Court lawsuit seeks $25 million on behalf of the rapper known legally as Andre Young, and promoter Chronic 2001 Touring Inc. It names mayoral spokesman Greg Bowens, Assistant Police Chief Marvin Winkler and Detroit police Commander Gary Brown.
Dr. Dre alleges his free speech and due process rights were violated by Detroit officials who ordered the video yanked July 6 from a Joe Louis Arena concert also featuring rappers Snoop Dogg, Eminem and Ice Cube.
The roughly eight-minute video, showing nudity and a bloody shootout, ultimately was not shown, given what the lawsuit called the city’s ”11th-hour threats,” “extreme and outrageous actions” and “clearly an unlawful prior restraint.”
Bowens said Friday he had not seen the lawsuit but described it as a “baseless (one) and shameless attempt to get more attention focused” on the performers’ Up in Smoke Tour.
“In a nutshell, when you can’t even fill up half of Joe Louis (Arena), this can’t be viewed as anything else but a publicity stunt to drum up more business as they go on,” Bowens said.
Police Chief Benny Napoleon, Winkler and Brown did not immediately return telephone messages Friday.
The lawsuit alleges the video, “integral to (Dr. Dre’s) performance,” had played during tour stops in 10 U.S. cities and Toronto “without incident before coming to Detroit.”
Hours before the local concert, the suit says, Bowens, the two police officials and “a significant number” of armed law enforcers appeared at the arena and demanded the video be pulled.
At times using profanity, the lawsuit says, Bowens called the video inappropriate, had no court order barring its showing and could not cite applicable laws.
With Bowens nearby, the suit says, Brown told organizers the concern was whether the video was appropriate for young people, and that the tour hadn’t warned the audience on the tickets or in advertisements.
Even so, the suit says, an audiotape loop played over loudspeakers outside the arena advised of the performance’s “mature content,” with similar written notices on the arena’s doors.
Brown threatened to arrest whoever activated the video, Dr. Dre and the tour’s promoters, then immediately stop the show, the lawsuit says.
Winkler threatened to “pull the power” to the arena, regardless of any ensuing audience unrest, the suit says.
“Faced with the 11th-hour threats and demands of the city and its significant police presence, as well as the city’s total disregard of the possibility of a civil disturbance if the police did as they threatened,” the lawsuit says, Dr. Dre “was forced not to exhibit the video during the performance rather than risk harm to his fans.”
Hours before a scheduled concert the next day at the Palace of Auburn Hills, the suit alleges, Dr. Dre and the promoters also were told by that suburb’s police not to show the video.
When a Detroit federal judge ruled Auburn Hills could not block the video’s showing, it aired as scheduled. Police issued Dr. Dre a misdemeanor citation for promoting pornography.
Police there also have reported the matter to the state Liquor Control Commission, believing the Palace violated its liquor license by airing the video, said Chris De Witt, a Michigan Attorney General’s Office spokesman.
If the state sides with Auburn Hills police, the Palace’s liquor license could be suspended or revoked. The arena also could be fined up to $300.
Palace spokesman Jeff Corey, who has said officials there did not view the video before the Up in Smoke show, would not comment Friday.