[Dixielandjazz] More on Austin, Texas Festival Insident

Thompson rebecca.e.thompson at verizon.net
Thu Apr 1 21:50:09 PST 2004

TOPIC:  Band arrested in SXSW conga line incident to play for council
Invitation by two council members comes much to chagrin of police

By Tony Plohetski
Thursday, April 1, 2004
Grammy Award-winning band Ozomatli, whose conga line on Sixth Street led to
the arrest of two members and the manager, has decided to put on a second
show while they're in Austin this month: at the Austin City Council meeting
April 22.

Council Member Brewster McCracken said Wednesday evening that Ozomatli had
accepted an invitation from him and Council Member Betty Dunkerley this week
to perform at the meeting in an effort to bring closure to the incident and
draw attention to the need to change the city's noise ordinance.

The band already was scheduled to play at Stubb's this month, an appearance
that was booked long before the South by Southwest music fest incident.

Police have said their March 18 confrontation with the band, in which an
officer said percussionist Jiro Yamaguchi hit him in the head with his drum,
was prompted by an ordinance violation.

Police union President Mike Sheffield called the invitation "just plain
wrong," particularly because criminal charges have not been resolved.

"The officers view this as an insult and are very disappointed that it
appears that some in city government have already rendered a judgment in
this incident," Sheffield said.

McCracken said he is only trying to bring a positive conclusion to the
high-profile episode.

"I believe that the city's reputation within the music sector nationally has
probably been hurt by this incident," he said.
Dunkerley could not be reached Wednesday night.

A charge of assault of a public servant is pending against Yamaguchi, who
faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

Bassist Willy Abers is charged with violating the city's noise ordinance,
and band manager Amy Sue Blackman-Romero is charged with interfering with
the duties of a public servant, both misdemeanors.

Blackman-Romero said she hopes the council performance will bring more
attention to what she said was mistreatment by Austin police.

Band members have said that they were leading a line of people outside the
Exodus nightclub onto the street when police ordered them back inside. They
said they were going back in when the incident escalated.

Officers Justin Owings and Christopher Luh have said that Abers remained
outside and tried to incite the crowd. They said that as they tried to
arrest Abers, Yamaguchi struck Owings.

The incident was captured on videotape, whose images police have called

McCracken said: "Those videos speak for themselves. We've seen on the TV
news a couple of videos of what happened in terms of the band going back
into the club."

Police spokesman Kevin Buchman said Owings and Luh did not want to comment
on the City Council's invitation.
tplohetski at statesman.com; 445-3605

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