City councillor Karygiannis denies calling for a Beyonce ban in Toronto
TORONTO — A city councillor is clarifying that he’s not expressly calling for Toronto to ban pop star Beyonce after her Super Bowl halftime performance that stirred controversy for its perceived support of the Black Panther movement.
In her performance, the singer wore faux-bandoliers while supported by backup dancers clad in black berets reminiscent of the Black Panthers, a movement with a chequered and occasionally violent history in the U.S.
It was that association that raised alarms for Ward 39 Scarborough-Agincourt City Councillor Jim Karygiannis.
“The question was, ‘should she be banned?’ And I said if there are people of that impression, the place to address that is through the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration John McCallum,” said Karygiannis.
Beyonce is scheduled to perform in Toronto on May 25th and the councillor clarified that he was not expressly calling for a ban, but would not answer how he personally felt on whether she should be allowed into the country if she supported the Black Panthers.
The comments sparked anger on Twitter, with many citing this as an example of anti-black sentiment.
Even Councillor Norm Kelly got involved, responding to Andray Domise, a prominent member of Toronto’s black community.
Kelly’s response won him a few shout outs of his own.
The pop star faced criticism south of the border as well, and a #BoycottBeyonce hashtag surfaced online soon after her performance.
Sam, a young black youth at city hall Monday afternoon, said the performance was great but didn’t agree with the political tone many took away from it.
“There is a time and place for everything. I think she chose the wrong place. Entertainment is one; politics is another,” he said.
Karygiannis defended himself against accusations of racism, noting that 80 per cent of his staff are ethnic minorities, and 60 per cent are visible minorities. Instead, Karygiannis said he was merely trying to show his support for the police.
“I feel uncomfortable when we’re dumping on them,” he said.