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O’Connor Puts On Wig to Observe Protesters

Irish singer Sinead O’Connor disguised herself with a brown wig and baseball cap Wednesday night as she watched demonstrators protesting her refusal to allow the American national anthem to be played before a concert.

The cropped-haired 23-year-old singer went nearly unrecognized for a time outside the Saratoga Performing Arts Center but walked away when some fans and television reporters caught on.

Later, during her concert, she thanked her fans for their support.

“I never said I had disrespect for the American people,” O’Connor said. “I have nothing but respect for people of any country.”

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O’Connor drew the ire of protesters for her refusal to perform at the Garden State Arts Center in New Jersey last Friday unless the arena dispensed with its usual practice of playing “The Star-Spangled Banner” before concerts. Arena officials complied but later banned O’Connor from appearing there again.

Several radio stations in New York and New Jersey have banned her songs. They were joined Wednesday by KGGI-FM in San Bernardino.

About 10 demonstrators sang the national anthem outside the Saratoga Performing Arts Center gates Wednesday evening and urged fans not to enter.

O’Connor, whose hits include “No One Compares 2 U” and “Mandinka,” watched for more than half an hour without talking to the demonstrators or her fans, said Donna Eichmeyer, an arts center spokeswoman.

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“She was concerned,” Eichmeyer said. “She wanted to hear what they had to say.”

Four songs into her show, O’Connor stopped to tell the fans she was touched by their show of support. She also said she was gratified that the fans let the protest continue without incident, because the demonstrators “had a right to be there as well.”

Elaine Schock, a spokeswoman for O’Connor, called the decision by some radio stations to stop playing O’Connor songs “absurd.”


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