En respuesta a las llamadas que Centro Presente ha recibido por la cancelación del evento «Hip Hop for Justice», el Centro Presente ha decidido enviar esta carta abierta al municipio de Somerville:
Dear City of Somerville:
In response to the numerous phone calls and e-mails we have received in connection with the cancellation of our youth Hip Hop Concert for Justice both in Somerville and Cambridge, we write to address the questions that this situation has generated.
According to the official position of the City of Somerville, through its School Superintendent, its police department and its Mayor, the cancellation in Somerville was due to a permitting problem.
We wish to acknowledge up front that we did not have the appropriate permit. However, we wish to share our truth by describing a series of events as they unfolded the week of the concert. These events call into question the transparency with which Somerville city officials handled the process and demonstrate, at least to us, the little support we received and by extension our youth. Our intention is not to stir controversy. Our intention is simply to state our truth.
On Monday, April 28, four days before the concert, we were contacted by the School Superintendent raising concerns about the safety of concert-goers given a Boston police bulletin allegedly suggesting that the event could become «inflammatory.»
Later, we received a phone call from a Somerville police lieutenant echoing the Superintendent’s concerns and adding that we did not have the appropriate permit.
Other reasons that were cited in our cancellation included the fact that we were charging a nominal fee of $3.00; that it was for youth ages 12 to 18 and the range was apparently not acceptable; and that our concert was not exclusively for Somerville youth, but rather would bring youth from the Greater Boston area.
Conversations with the police lieutenant made it clear that the police department was not interested in helping us figure out a way to make the event safer, but rather wanted to make sure that we did not have the event altogether. When we asked about how to get the final two signatures to complete the permitting process, the lieutenant indicated that even if we had the permit, there was too much of a concern for safety given recent drive-by shootings in the area.
We respected the decision that was made by Somerville, and as an organization, decided to look for other options outside of the city, given their unwillingness to help us come up with creative solutions and alternatives to hold our event safely.
We were very fortunate to partner with Cambridge Area IV Youth Center who in a very short notice agreed to co-sponsor the event. Through our process in finding support in Cambridge, we were very honest in giving the reasons why our event had been cancelled in Somerville. Despite the outcome in Somerville, we were able to secure police detail from Cambridge and the Mayor agreed to attend the event. We were very happy and relieved with the support we received in Cambridge and with the opportunity to go ahead with the concert.
Late in the day before the concert, we received a call from a Cambridge city official indicating that the Cambridge Police was no longer willing to allow us to have the event in Cambridge. Someone from the Somerville Police Department had contacted the Cambridge Police Department and convinced them to cancel the event. This was confirmed the following morning in a conversation held between our Executive Director and an officer from the Cambridge Police Department.
The chain of events described above is what resulted in the cancellation of our event twice. In addition to having been profoundly di