The Sammies, Sacramento’s premier music awards show, has been canceled after more than a dozen nominees said they would boycott the event after the sponsoring publication, Sacramento News & Review, profiled a former Sacramento police officer who fatally shot a black man in 2016.
“SN&R has made the difficult decision to cancel the awards event that was scheduled to take place in March,” states an email sent Tuesday morning to nominees.
Online voting will continue and the winners will be announced, the email states.
Earlier this month, more than a dozen performers said they would not attend the Sammies in a stance against the publication. An alternate show at the Blue Lamp was scheduled to occur on the same March 15 night as the Sammies.
In December, the alternative weekly News & Review published a detailed story that extensively quoted former Sacramento Police Department Officer John Tennis and featured him on the cover in a blue “Superman” T-shirt. He was fired last year after fatally shooting Joseph Mann, a mentally ill black man who drew police response after residents said he was acting strangely and waving a knife.
“Good … now Boycott the paper until the Mann family gets the same coverage as that crooked cop,” wrote performer Mahtie Bush on Twitter.
Besides Mahtie Bush, boycotting artists include The Philharmonik, Hobo Johnson, Sparks Across Darkness, Write or Die, Tel Cairo, SpaceWalker, Vinnie Guidera & The Dead Birds, LaTour, Drop Dead Red, Petaluma, The Gold Souls, Girls Rock Sacramento, Captain Cutiepie, Nezumi Onna and Andrew Castro.
The Philharmonik said he won’t be satisfied until “constantly neglected” communities receive better representation. He added that he hopes the artists remember why they boycotted.
“It’s not about awards but people and artists of color who have not received a fair platform to be included,” The Philharmonik said.
April Walker, who performs under the name SpaceWalker, wanted to know why the publication wouldn’t apologize.
“Why is it so hard to apologize? Just say you are sorry,” Walker said on a recorded video. “Yo, learn from it and move on. It’s not that hard.”
Artists and activists said they believe the News & Review story “humanized” Tennis and gave him a greater platform than he deserves.
Tanya Faison of Black Lives Matter Sacramento said her concerns run deeper than the Sammies or one story. Her group launched the initial protest against the publication last month.
“I want SN&R to start including black faces in their coverage,” Faison said. She called for a more diverse reporting staff and more coverage of black and Latino families affected by law enforcement actions.
SN&R Publisher Jeff von Kaenel declined Tuesday to discuss the issue with The Bee.
In an earlier interview, von Kaenel said he stood by the reporting, which wove Tennis’ troubled history within the department with new details about Mann’s difficulties getting the help he needed. He said his publication was able to get Tennis to admit to causing the 1997 in-custody death of Albert Glenn Thiel.
The publisher said that SN&R erred by tagging numerous activists in a social media post responding to the backlash.