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Tower City shuts off band for political T-shirts
by Michael Sangiacomo    Cleveland.com
Entered into the database on Saturday, April 29th, 2006 @ 12:12:26 MST


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A band wearing anti-President Bush T-shirts was silenced in mid-performance at Tower City Friday because the mall's management felt the band's attire was inappropriate.

Mifuné, an Afro-beat band, was performing as part of the Tri-C JazzFest when the sound was cut off about 20 minutes into the set on orders from Tower City management.

"They didn't like that all the band members wore a T-shirt with a picture of George Bush with a line through it," said band leader Jacob Fader, 28, of Cleveland Heights. "They said we either remove the shirts, turn them inside out, or get off the stage. I said that doing so would be against our core principles and free speech. We told the audience what happened from the stage after the microphones were cut. The crowd booed."

A spokesman for Tower City confirmed the action.

"We felt the band's attire was distracting and inappropriate," said Lisa Kreiger, Tower City general manager. "We welcome all the musical groups from the festival. The purpose of the show was to provide musical entertainment."

Tri-C JazzFest Managing Director Beth Rutkowski said she stood by the actions of Tower City.

Fader said that the sound was cut off during "Supercrush," which he described as a "song about how the Bush administration separates the wealth, causing the elimination of the middle class."

He said the band has several political songs in its repertoire.

Fader said that security officers were brought in to keep order among the murmuring crowd that had gathered near the Tower City water fountain.

"When my father started to say that it was wrong to silence us, a security cop told him to shut up," Fader said. "My dad said he had the right to free speech and the security guy said, 'Not in here you don't.' "

Fader said what happened Friday is one of the reasons the band performs wearing anti-Bush T-shirts.

"This is indicative of what's going on in this country," he said. "They are stopping free speech, If it were up to Bush, things like the Tri-C JazzFest would not exist. This proves our point."

To reach this Plain Dealer reporter:

msangiacomo@plaind.com, 216-999-4890