Pharrell Pulls His Music Fest From Virginia, Cites Upset Over Cousin’s Fatal Shooting
Donovan Lynch, Pharrell’s cousin, was fatally shot by police in March.
Lynch was one of two people killed during a shooting that also left eight other people wounded, as Blavity previously reported. Police said one of the officers “encountered an armed citizen” and fatally shot Lynch, the Associated Press reports.
The return of the Something in the Water festival may not happen after creator Pharrell Williams says the city is run by a “toxic energy” and hasn’t valued his proposed solutions.https://t.co/H1IF4k7VUw
— WAVY TV 10 (@WAVY_News) October 5, 2021
Virginia Beach Police Chief Paul Neudigate said investigators found the weapon “in the vicinity” of the shooting, however, no evidence confirmed that the firearm belonged to Lynch.
Following his cousin’s death, Williams spoke at Lynch’s celebration of life ceremony, calling on Virginia Beach leaders to “do better.”
“Virginia Beach, you need to talk. Talk about your issues, talk about your struggles, so we can get past them. The misinformation, the mischaracterizations, and — forgive me — but it took the mayor a week to reach out to this family. There are state dignitaries here; there are city officials here — why? Because there’s something staring — there’s something staring in the spirit of Virginia Beach. We must do better,” he said.
Virginia Beach City Manager Patrick Duhaney reached out to Williams in a letter dated Sept. 28, expressing “immense disappointment” after learning the famous festival may not return in 2022.
“The purpose of this letter is to express the immense disappointment felt after learning that the Something in the Water festival may not occur in 2022,” Duhaney wrote. “Before any final decisions are made, the Mayor and I would like to fully understand the sentiment that has brought us to this point. With greater humility, we hope that you and the Festival leadership might be willing to meet with us in person to discuss our partnership.”
The 48-year-old musician penned a letter responding to Duhaney citing this ran by “toxic energy.”
— Ali Weatherton 13News Now (@13AliWeatherton) October 5, 2021
“I wish the same energy I’ve felt from Virginia Beach leadership upon losing the festival would have been similarly channeled following the loss of my relative’s life,” Williams wrote.
“I love my city, but for far too long it has been run by — and with toxic energy,” the “Happy” singer continued. “The toxic energy that changed the narrative several times around the homicide of my cousin, [Donovon] Lynch, a citizen of Virginia, is the same toxic energy that changed the narrative around the mass murder and senseless loss of life at Building Number 2.”
Council liaison for the festival, Aaron Rouse, commented on both letters to WAVY, expressing the city has “a lot of work to do.” The Virginia Beach councilman said he isn’t confident about the concert’s return and admits to a lack of leadership present in the aftermath of the shooting of Lynch.
“There was a lack of leadership when that happened. Myself and another colleague had to call a special session,” he said. “You must provide more updates on the investigation into the deaths of Donovan Lynch and Deshayla Harris.”
Virginia Beach Mayor Bobby Dyer wants to connect with the producer to find a solution.
“We’re disappointed that he’s feeling that way. Something in the Water was very, very big and positive for the City of Virginia Beach. Unfortunately, last year with the COVID, we had to cancel it. But once again … the manager and I want to connect with Pharrell, sit down, talk things out, and that’s what we’re going to take. We are going to try to be positive about this, and we are going to try to make a case that, you know, we are moving forward,” Dyer said.