NY Cheers Springsteen's Diallo Song

Tuesday, June 13th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) — Caught in another political storm over his lyrics, The Boss responded by letting his music do the talking.

Bruce Springsteen performed his new song about the New York City police killing of Amadou Diallo to a New York City crowd Monday, despite angry police union leaders urging their members to boycott his concert.

The New Jersey rocker made no introduction and offered no explanation of his thoughts on the song, ``American Skin (41 Shots).'' Springsteen introduced the song last week during a concert in Atlanta.

E Street Band members began the song by approaching microphones one by one and repeating the words ''41 shots,'' referring to the number of times four white officers shot at Diallo, a black West African immigrant.

The crowd began cheering in recognition of the song and interrupted Springsteen's singing with cheers several times. It was difficult to distinguish any boos from the traditional ``Bruce!'' chant at his shows.

``Is this your wallet? Is this your life?'' the unrecorded and unreleased song goes, referring to Diallo's wallet, which police mistook for a gun. ``You can get killed just for living in your American skin.''

One heckler was escorted from Madison Square Garden after he approached the stage and flashed obscene hand gestures at Springsteen during the song.

Diallo, 22, was mortally wounded as he stood in the vestibule of his Bronx home on Feb. 4, 1999. The four officers involved in the shooting were acquitted of murder earlier this year.

Diallo's parents attended the Garden concert. Kadiatou Diallo, the slain man's mother, has said she interprets the song as a sign that people cared about what happened to her son.

The Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, which represents 27,000 city police officers, has urged its members not to attend — or work overtime security detail — Springsteen's 10-concert stand in protest.

Police Lt. Eric Adams, of 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care, said his group supports Springsteen and is upset that few black artists have used their talents to support the Diallo family.

``We commend Bruce Springsteen, and we believe that he is courageous in the position that he is taking,'' Adams said in a news conference before the concert.

Sixteen years ago, Springsteen was upset when his song ``Born in the USA'' was used in President Reagan's political campaign and was misinterpreted as a patriotic anthem.


On the Net:

Web site for Springsteen fans: http://www.luckytown.org

Patrolmen's Benevolent Association: http://www.nycpba.org