Pharrell protest will make history - BDS

Cape Town - The planned protest by the pro-Palestine BDS movement against Grammy award-winning artist Pharrell Williams's concert on Monday night could be the biggest action against a musician in South African history, the group said.

The local Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement expects at least 40 000 people to picket outside the main entrance of Grand West Casino in Cape Town.

The internationally acclaimed producer and performer has come under fire for collaborating with local retail group Woolworths who have been the focus of local pro-Palestine activists for their trade with Israel.

The Western Cape High Court ruled in favour of BDS at the weekend, declaring that the City of Cape Town's restriction of the upcoming protest of 150 people was unconstitutional and therefore invalid, according to the pro-Palestine group.

The organisation applied for a permit from the city to accommodate 50 000 protestors outside the concert. It said after consulting with safety and town planning experts, that it decided to compromise and settle for 40 000 protestors.

"It is in recognition of the militant and courageous internationalism of the 1980s that we take to the streets today in what will be a historic gathering - expected to be the largest protest event in South African history against any musician or artist," BDS said on Monday.

"No violent, hate speech, anti-semitism, Zionism or other any other racism will be tolerated at today’s protest event. We will have a zero-tolerance policy for any violations of the law, constitution or other agreements."

BDS said that if Pharrell was interested in making the world "happy", he should join the cultural boycott of Israel, and join "the growing list of artists from Stevie Wonder to Lauryn Hill, Alice Walker, Roger Waters and others who have backed the non-violent BDS movement".

The City of Cape Town spokesperson Priya Reddy told News24 on Monday morning that it would uphold the court ruling.

She said the city met with the SA Police Service on Sunday, and was looking at employing more law enforcement officers to ensure the safety of everyone, including residents and concert-goers.

Reddy said however the city did not have jurisdiction on private property, and the property of the casino.

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