Attempts to bar a local performance by rap star Ice-T fell through Thursday after city officials and the San Diego Police Officers Assn. determined that they did not have legal grounds to oppose next week's show at San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium.
Ice-T and his band, Body Count, whose song "Cop Killer" has been the focus of national debate over lyric content in popular music, have been scheduled to perform five dates with metal bands Guns N' Roses and Metallica.
Because of contractual rights held by the show's promoters, city officials have no authority to prevent Body Count from appearing at the stadium, City Manager Jack McGrory said Thursday. The stadium is owned and managed by the city.
Concerns about concert security were first raised by the stadium's general manager, Bill Wilson, in a Sept. 23 letter to the show's promoters, Avalon Attractions and Bill Silva Presents.
"There is a potential that many police officers who were scheduled to work the concert may refuse to work," Wilson's letter says. "I would like you to explore the following two options to help our situation here: 1) Replace the band . . . 2) Have the band not play the song 'Cop Killer.' "
On Thursday, Wilson, who is a former commander in the Pasadena Police Department and served as an officer for 27 years, referred all calls concerning the dispute to the city manager's office.
Concert promoters spoke with representatives from the three bands and concluded that security would be manageable, according to a release issued Thursday afternoon by Silva's office. No major security problems were reported during Body Count performances with the Guns N' Roses/Metallica tour in Kansas City on Sept. 16 or in Denver on Saturday, said Ted Anderson, a Silva spokesman. The tour was scheduled to stop in Oakland Thursday night.
"Ice-T has all along been very considerate of the security concerns, and he is not out to cause problems for anyone, police included," Anderson said. "The problem from the beginning has been in how the song has been presented, as an anti-law enforcement issue, rather than a statement about what inner-city life is like."
"Cop Killer," which describes a fictitious killing of a police officer, has been criticized by police groups, President Bush, Charlton Heston, Oliver North and the Chrysler Corp. The San Diego City Council voted in July to issue a letter to the record's distributor, Time Warner, calling for a halt to the sale of the album.
Ice-T, whose real name is Tracy Morrow, has defended the song as a depiction of his own anger at widespread police abuse. After police groups threatened to boycott Time Warner, he agreed in July to remove the "Cop Killer" track from the album.
The Wednesday show in San Diego, originally scheduled for Aug. 14, was postponed after the lead singer of Metallica was injured by a stage effect that exploded during a performance in Montreal. Ice-T and Body Count were invited to open shows for the two headliners as a replacement for an act that dropped out when the concerts were rescheduled.
Scores of police officers this week called the police association office to complain about the appearance, association President Harry O. Eastus said.
"They think it's pretty rotten to ask police to provide security for a rock group who has gone out of their way to make officers' jobs harder," Eastus said. "A cop's job couldn't be any tougher than it is today."
Officers were required to apply for overtime duty to serve at the event, and none had asked to be removed from concert security rosters after Body Count was added to the bill, said San Diego Police Lt. Bob Stinson of the department's special events unit. Overtime duty at the event was in high demand when the concert was announced three months ago, Stinson said.
Ice-T has a diverse range of supporters who have invoked the constitutional right to freedom of expression on his behalf.
Although not exactly a fan, Mayor Maureen O'Connor spoke out in July against the City Council denunciation of "Cop Killer." She said Thursday through press secretary Paul Downey that her position has not changed.
"The thing about the First Amendment right is that it doesn't differentiate over what is or isn't tasteful," Downey said. "The mayor doesn't like the song, but she also feels the city has no place in determining the content of a concert."
Statements by the National Black Police Assn., which also defended the rapper's right to perform, were reiterated Thursday.
"(Ice-T) is entitled to voice his anger and frustration with the conditions facing oppressed people," a representative said.
The show--the first major concert since The Who played in 1989-- starts at 3:30 p.m. and is expected to have the most elaborate security arrangements to date for a stadium concert. More than 1,200 private security staff members and about 200 San Diego police officers are expected to be deployed. The figure, which works out to slightly less than one security officer or policeman for every 30 fans at the show, is double the number of security personnel ever hired for a stadium event.
Fans entering the show will be searched for alcohol, narcotics, cans, bottles and weapons. Re-entry into the show will be prohibited.
During the Montreal leg of the concert tour in August, before Body Count had been added to the bill, about 2,000 fans rioted after a show was cut short. The stadium and cars in the parking area were vandalized, and police were pelted with debris. About a dozen fans and officers were injured; 12 arrests were made.
Ice-T and Body Count have performed in the San Diego area twice in the past year and a half, during last summer's Lalapalooza concert at Southwestern College's Devore Stadium and earlier this year at Iguana's nightclub in Tijuana. No security problems were reported.
The city is hoping for a net payoff of $225,000 from the concert, which is expected to draw its prearranged capacity of 43,000.
Concert promoters were discussing with Body Count's management whether "Cop Killer" would be performed.
Staff Writer Michael Granberry contributed to this report.