The video included a scene of a young boy wearing a hoodie and dancing in front of a line of riot police, a slow pan of graffiti reading “Stop killing us,” and Beyonce lying on a New Orleans police car sinking into water.
During her Super Bowl halftime show, Beyonce performed Formation with backup dancers dressed in a way that was reminiscent of members of the 1960’s-era Black Panther Party.
The images and costumes sparked outrage among some police union representatives, who claimed that her acknowledgement of police brutality was anti-cop. Some even refused to work her upcoming world tour. Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani jumped on the anger bandwagon, claiming the superstar’s performance was “outrageous.”
Beyonce addressed those claims, asserting that she is not against the police, but that she is for justice and the peaceful resolution of conflict.
“I think the most powerful art is usually misunderstood. But anyone who perceives my message as anti-police is completely mistaken,” she told Elle UK. “I have so much admiration and respect for officers and the families of officers who sacrifice themselves to keep us safe. But let’s be clear: I am against police brutality and injustice. Those are two separate things. If celebrating my roots and culture during Black History Month made anyone uncomfortable, those feelings were there long before a video and long before me. I’m proud of what we created and I’m proud to be a part of a conversation that is pushing things forward in a positive way.”