In the fall of 2021, 22Gz was prohibited from performing at the LIT Lounge in the City of Providence. The Providence Police Department asked the Providence Board of Licenses to present the club with a “cease and desist” order to remove the artist from the show biz because of his violent lyrics and the alleged connection to gang life.
According to a lawsuit reviewed by AllHipHop.com, Hannah Stern, the Policy Associate of the American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island and the American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island, is suing the City of Providence by and through its Treasurer, James Lombardi, to receive certain records used to substantiate why 22Gz was not allowed to perform.
Before ACLU’s complaint, the City of Providence refused to share the documents.
The lawsuit claims that on October 27th, 2021, the Providence Police Department requested the Providence Board of Licenses issue the proper documents to stop the “LIT Lounge” from letting the chart-topper at their venue on October 30th, 2021.
The cops claimed 22Gz is “a member of Wookie Gang, they call it Gun Gang,” and that “this particular group . . . also has ties to the Crip Gang.”
The police department said the artist “spent five months in jail in 2017 on a second-degree murder charge related to a shooting in Miami in which the charges were later dropped by the victim.”
The police also cited a report from the NYPD from 2019 that said, “if they were allowed to perform, there would be a higher risk of violence.”
The Board of Licenses agreed with the police and sent a “cease and desist” order to the owners of the club.
The language read in part, “Your entertainment scheduled for Saturday, October 30th, ’22 GZ’ has been denied. At the Board of Licenses hearing on October 27th, 2021, the Providence Police Department presented numerous incidents of violence at previous performances of this artist. The Board determined that allowing this artist to perform would pose a significant safety threat to your establishment, your staff, your patrons, and the City as a whole.”
A little over a week later, on November 8th, 2021, the ACLU filed an open records request with the city to get “any documents provided to the Board of Licenses regarding” incidents of violence at any of 22Gz other performances.
They also asked for “any documents which delineate the specific incidents of violence referenced in the Providence Police Department presentation leading to the denial of this event for the applicant.”
However, the city did not.
Instead, they referred them to the City’s Open Meetings Portal, “where you may find documents that have been filed with the Board of Licenses pertaining to Lit Lounge” on November 22nd, 2021.
These documents presented no proof of violence at his previous performances. The ACLU asked again. This time the city referenced news articles, including one from the New York Times.
The lawsuit says the city cited a “copyright law that prevented the city from re-publishing the news articles to plaintiffs in response to the request.”
As a result, the ACLU believes the City of Providence’s “decision to prevent 22Gz from performing at Lit Lounge constitutes a prior restraint on speech, which may have been unconstitutional.”
The ACLU, on behalf of the rapper, is asking for a judge for the records to be released.