Pharrell Williams is putting his hometown Virginia Beach on notice regarding his Something In The Water festival.
Citing “toxic energy” within the city, Williams suggests leadership hasn’t taken heed to his proposed solutions after his cousin, 25-year-old Donovan Lynch, was shot and killed by Virginia Beach police officer Solomon Simmons III in March.
Williams wrote a letter to VA Beach City Manager Patrick Duhaney on Tuesday (October 5), citing the festival successfully eased racial tensions in the city and brought along economic developments to the area. In the letter, he also mentioned the city was run by toxic energy, especially at the top of leadership.
“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.”
Community leaders have joined Williams in calls for answers regarding Lynch’s death. The officer who shot Lynch did not have his city-issued body camera on. Although police say Lynch had a weapon, his family disputes the claim and says he had a legal right to carry it even if he did have a gun.
“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,” Williams wrote.
His letter was in response to a September 26 letter from Duhaney who felt “immense disappointment” in learning the festival created by Williams may not take place in 2022. Duhaney revealed the festival brought in $24 million in 2019, with media coverage granting an estimated value of $41 million.
“As impressive as those figures are, they are just that — numbers. We have not lost sight of the intangible, unquantifiable impact the festival has had on the social fabric of our community,” Duhaney wrote.
However, Williams ignored Duhaney’s request regarding the festival. He ended his letter writing, “until the gatekeepers and the powers-that-be consider the citizens and the consumer base, and no longer view the idea of human rights for all as a controversial idea… I don’t have any problems with the city, but I realize the city hasn’t valued my proposed solutions either.”
Lynch’s family filed a $50 million civil lawsuit against the officer who shot and killed the 26-year-old.