John Tory calls Action Bronson lyrics 'astonishing, disturbing'
Toronto Mayor John Tory said he doesn't understand the appeal of an artist visiting the city next month, but will support concert organizers' decision on whether to go ahead with the show.
Action Bronson is scheduled to perform at a free concert at Yonge-Dundas Square on the final day of the annual North By Northeast music festival that runs from June 17-21.
Since event organizers announced the lineup, nearly 26,000 people have signed an online petition asking for the rapper's show to be cancelled.
"Action Bronson glorifies gang-raping and murdering women," the petition's creators wrote on the website, quoting lyrics from a song called "Consensual Rape."
In an open letter to the event organizers and the City of Toronto, the petition’s creators write: "We urge you to stop your support for Action Bronson… It is completely inappropriate that an artist like this be hosted at a venue owned and operated by the City of Toronto, as part of a festival which is funded by various levels of government."
As of Thursday afternoon, 25,859 people had signed the petition. By Friday morning, the petition had 33,985 signatures.
When asked about the petition, Tory told reporters he'd spoken with event organizers on Wednesday night and voiced his concerns.
"I certainly registered with them that we just can't have that sort of thing happening on public spaces. It's not consistent with the city's own policy for Yonge-Dundas Square," Tory said Thursday morning.
The city's policy states that those who use the square must adhere to the "Performance and Display" guidelines, which states that performances cannot exploit, stereotype or promote the hatred of any group.
Performances must also "be consistent with the principle of respect for the dignity and worth of all people."
Tory said he told organizers he didn't think the performance was consistent with the venue's policy.
"As a person, I find the trend toward this kind of disrespectful -- you might even argue it's abusive -- language to be astonishing and very disturbing."
Despite his personal dislike of the lyrics, Tory said he would stand by the organizers' decision.
"It's not my place to decide what is art and what is music in the city," he said.
Tory said he had a "great deal of faith" that the organizers of NXNE would take steps to deal with the opposition, but did not say what he expected organizers to change, if anything.
A representative of NXNE did not provide a comment, but said that organizers would provide an update on Friday.