Pharrell Williams is pulling his Something in the Water music festival from his hometown of Virginia Beach following the police killing of his cousin by a local police officer earlier this year. The move comes after two years of COVID-related cancellations.
Williams fired off a letter to city manager Patrick Duhaney noting that Virginia Beach has been “run by and with toxic energy” for “far too long.”
“The toxic energy that changed the narrative several times around the homicide of my cousin, Donovon Lynch, a citizen of Virginia, is the same toxic energy that changed the narrative around the mass murder and senseless loss of life at Building Number 2,” Williams wrote in a letter, referring to the 12 people who died in a 2019 mass shooting at a local municipal building.
“Until the gatekeepers and the powers-that-be consider the citizens and the consumer base, and no longer view the idea of human rights for all as a controversial idea… I don’t have any problems with the city, but I realize the city hasn’t valued my proposed solutions, either,” he wrote.
Williams first announced his Something in the Water music festival in 2019. A press release stated that the festival’s mission is to “unite the community and celebrate the diversity and magic of Virginia Beach” while the weekend celebrates “the opportunity and the chance to empower everyone from the youth to the small business owners.”
Williams explained in a statement why he wanted to bring together some of the biggest acts in music for this festival: “Allen Iverson. Missy Elliott. Dave Matthews Band. Ella Fitzgerald. Virginia has been home to some of the most gifted artists, athletes, and scientists to ever live. And it makes sense — the people of Virginia are one-of-a-kind: uniquely gritty, bold, and brilliant.”
He continued, “For the first time, we are harnessing that energy, bringing the great minds of our time and the biggest brands in the world to this great place, and letting the inspiration flow and well deserved opportunities unfold. Virginia needs this right now and the world will see what we Virginians have known all along: there really is Something in the Water.”
The music producer’s recent letter about pulling the 2022 music festival was in response to a Sept. 29 letter written by Duhaney that expressed “immense disappointment” over the possibility that the event might not be held in the city, according to NBC affiliate WAVY.
Williams wrote that he initially brought Something in the Water to his hometown to “ease racial tension, to unify the region, bring about economic development opportunities and broaden the horizons of the local business community.”
“We achieved those things!” he wrote. “I wish the same energy I’ve felt from Virginia Beach leadership upon losing the festival would have been similarly channeled following the loss of my relative’s life.”
Pharrell’s cousin, 25-year-old Donovon Lynch, was killed by police in March, and the victim’s father has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city and the Virginia Beach police.
As previously reproted on EURweb, per NBC News, Lynch was killed along the city’s popular Oceanfront strip of hotels and restaurants shortly after several others were wounded in two nearby shootings. Police claim Lynch had a handgun when he came in contact with officers responding to the shootings. He was fatally shot by a Black cop, Solomon Simmons, whose body camera had not been activated.
Speaking to WAVY-TV Lynch’s father noted “They spent $5.5 million on bodycams and dashcams, and they’re not then utilized,” Wayne Lynch said. “They know my family, they know we not like this. It ain’t anything to do with none of that, and for them to betray him like that is wrong.”
The family is reportedly seeking $50 million in damages, as well as $350,000 from Simmons. They also called for a federal investigation into the killing.
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