Protesters march outside Kid Rock show at Little Caesars Arena

2017-09-13 | Detroit Free Press

Sept. 12--Several dozen protesters gathered in Grand Circus Park ahead of tonight's Kid Rock show which officially opens the new Little Caesars Arena.

By 5:15 p.m., about 100 protesters were on Woodward in Grand Circus Park.

Former State Rep. Rashida Tlaib shouted in bullhorn "Who's city?" while the crowd responded "Our city!"

Sam Riddle, an activist with the National Action Network who served prison time in the City Hall corruption scandal, called Detroit a "bastion of White Supremacy" and said the choice of Kid Rock to open the arena was an absolute insult to Detroiters.

Some of the activists preparing to march to LCA to protest the first in a string of Kid Rock shows say they plan to kneel during the National Anthem.

"We want to acknowledge Colin Kapernick and him potentially losing everything to support what we're doing," said Tyrone Allen, 69, and a lifelong Detroiter, who called the choice of Kid Rock to open the arena an affront to Detroiters.

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"We have artists who are real Detroiters," who could have been chosen, Allen said.

The protest follows several days of social media smack talk between Kid Rock, his supporters and protesters who object to him performing in Detroit.

The Rev. Charles Williams last week posted on the National Action Network Michigan chapter's Facebook page: "When you hire Kid Rock, who is known to be dog-whistling and cat-calling to white supremacist organizations and the white supremacist community, alt-right, whatever you want to call them, and you take our tax dollars to do that? That's wrong."

At a show in Grand Rapids earlier this week, Rock fired back, telling the crowd he didn't need to be reminded that Black Lives Matter. Yesterday, the singer released a statement that read in part: "My track record in Detroit and Michigan speaks for itself, and I would dare anyone talking trash to put theirs up against mine. I am also a homeowner and taxpayer in the city of Detroit, so suck on that too!"

Among the protesters tonight were members of Black Lives Matter and Students for a Democratic Society, a 1960-era radical group that reformed a chapter at Wayne State University two years ago.

"He's a fascist with everything he's said," said Brandon Stout, 20, of Detroit, who carried a banner with the SDS logo. "We're out here to oppose Kid Rock and to oppose this new arena."

John Brenner, 19, of Pontiac marched with Stout. He said the new arena costs hundreds of millions of dollars, in a city where schools are underfunded and the poverty rate is huge.

"And to have Kid Rock as the opening act is really a slap in the face of the community," Brenner said.

Contact John Wisely: 313-222-6825 or On Twitter @jwisely.