The civilian agency that monitors the Portland Police Bureau is looking into claims officers target local hip-hop shows.
The complaint was launched after rapper Illmaculate refused to perform at the Blue Monk Saturday, March 1. The rapper, whose real name is Gregory Poe, says officers swarmed the venue before he went on stage – kicking out attendees and blocking off Belmont Street.
"It wasn't even the worst display of authority at a hip-hop show," Poe said.
"It was just the straw that broke the camel's back."
"It was more to the point of…if violence had occurred," said local rapper and promoter Cool Nutz.
Performers who were part of Poe's set couldn't get inside. That's when the rapper decided to protest.
Instead of rapping, he tweeted: "I will not perform in this city as long as the blatant targeting of black culture and minorities congregating is acceptable common practice."
His message was retweeted more than 100 times.
The Auditor's Office Independent Police Review division has spent the last month interviewing members of the music industry and officers. They will issue their findings in a report.
Sgt. Eric Strohmeyer was one of the officers who responded to the Blue Monk that night. He said the real issue was the crowd size in the small venue.
"It was major safety issue and that's why we dealt with it the way we did," Strohmeyer said. "It had nothing to do with hip-hop."
Strohmeyer is part of the bureau's entertainment detail. He and six other officers work with the Fire Marshall and Oregon Liquor Control Commission to respond to calls at bars and concerts. They also perform bar checks in Old Town.
"When people see us there's less of a chance they're going to want to get in a fight right in front of us," Strohmeyer said.
While the city's investigation is ongoing, Illmaculate has returned to the state to promote his new album, Clay Pigeons. But he says he won't be satisfied until he gets a meeting with city leaders and sees progress.
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