Odd Future first musos to be hit by law

MICHAEL DALY
Last updated 16:29 14/02/2014
Odd Future
Reuters

CONTROVERSIAL: Odd Future collective members Earl Sweatshirt (L), Taco Bennett (2nd L), Tyler, The Creator (R) and singer-songwriter M.I.A.

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Los Angeles rap collective Odd Future was barred from New Zealand by a section of law never used to stop musicians coming into the country before.

Immigration NZ denied it had set a precedent with the move, but acknowledged the piece of legislation had previously been used to bar people such as as Right-wing extremists.

Odd Future were to support Eminem in the Rapture event at Western Springs in Auckland tomorrow night. They were to have replaced one of the show's top attractions, Kendrick Lamar, who pulled out early this month.

Immigration NZ banned Odd Future just two days before the concert. It used a section of the law that allows authorities to deny entry where there is reason to believe there is, or is likely to be, a threat or risk to public order or the public interest.

Immigration NZ border operations manager Karen Urwin told National Radio the members of Odd Future had initially been granted permission to enter New Zealand. It was only early yesterday afternoon that Immigration NZ became aware of some overseas incidents involving Odd Future.

"That's when we decided to review that decision and we made a determination that they posed a threat to public order and we decided to cancel their visas," Urwin said.

At a record signing in Boston in 2011 fans had been crowding a street and police turned up.

"The group got up onto the roof of the building and started chanting at their fans and inciting them to go and attack the police officers," Urwin said.

"The fans then turned around and did attack the police officers, and one of those police officers was hospitalised."

An online search for reports of the incident turned up few details.

A police spokesman told the Boston Globe an officer suffered a back injury while trying to contain the crowd and was treated and released from hospital the night of the incident. A 13-year-old girl was charged with disorderly conduct.

Urwin said Immigration NZ had reports about the incident from law enforcement agencies.

"I'm not at liberty to disclose the exact source, or what they contained."

The second incident taken into account by Immigration NZ happened in Australia last year, when a woman from a group campaigning against Odd Future was targeted by the lead singer and received threatening Twitter messages from fans.

"The actions in that they were targeting a particular individual, a named individual, and singling her out for retribution, yes, that's inciting violence, yes obviously that does play a very big part in our decision, and it did," Urwin said.

"When you actually single people out and encourage other people to target them and their personal safety becomes at risk then that is crossing a line and that is not behaviour that we can have in New Zealand," she said.

"Given that we have a similar situation here in New Zealand with groups protesting about them coming to New Zealand, you have to say, 'well, actually now there's a real risk that the behaviour will continue, that the same incident will occur here in New Zealand', and look, frankly I'm not prepared to take that chance.

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"I don't think your average New Zealand citizen would think it was acceptable for us to take that kind of chance."

The section of law used to stop Odd Future had never been used against musicians before.

"This is the first time this has ever been applied to a group of musicians," Urwin said.

"We have historically used this same section to refuse entry to, the sort of people would be Right-wing extremist groups, sort of Ku Klux Klan."

She did not think that preventing Odd Future coming to this country was setting a precedent.

"Immigration's not seeking to become the morals police of New Zealand."

Odd Future manager Christian Clancy told the Associated Press members of the collective had changed over time and were not being given credit for growing up.

"It's disappointing because it's coming from a place where the reasoning is based on lyrics and/or actions that happened when these guys were teenagers," Clancy said.

"And if that's a stance someone's going to take, then what are you implying? That you don't allow talented kids to grow and change?"

- © Fairfax NZ News

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