[lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Chuck Berry[/lastfm] is, no doubt, a rock & roll icon. Heck, he’s a rock & roll pioneer! So, erecting an 8 foot statue of Chuck in his hometown of St. Louis sounds like a no-brainer…right?
[photogallerylink id=23614 align=right]WRONG! A former city councilwoman is vehemently opposed to the plan. And, she’s NOT backing down!
(Courtesy of Benjy Eisen – Spinner)
The installation of a statue of Chuck Berry has become mired in controversy in Berry’s hometown of St. Louis, Mo. because of a disreputable misstep from long ago. The eight-foot statue pays tribute to Berry’s legacy, as the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Famer’s influence on rock ‘n’ roll is, literally, immeasurable — way bigger than the eight feet of the statue.
On the other hand, a protest group opposes the honor a statue would bestow upon Berry because, they claim, one of his past criminal convictions is unacceptable. They are attempting to delay the statue’s planned July installation in a public plaza not far from a legendary venue — Blueberry Hill — where Berry, age 84, continues to perform to this day.
Reuters reports that 86-year-old Elsie Glickert, a former city official, says the opposition takes issue with the fact that Berry is “a felon and not a friend of women.” Specifically, she cites Berry’s 1962 conviction in which Berry was found guilty and eventually sentenced to a $5,000 fine and three years behind bars for violating the Mann Act. Berry served one and a half years of that sentence, beginning in February 1962.
Technically, the Mann Act forbids “transporting a woman across state lines for immoral behavior.” And while the language, itself the subject of controversy, is ambiguous, the law’s general purpose is to protect women against indentured slavery and prostitution. In Berry’s case the law was enacted after allegations that he had sexual relations with a 14-year-old Native American whom he, indeed, transported over state lines and employed at his nightclub, Berry’s Club Bandstand, after meeting her in Texas in 1959. The girl was eventually fired and, later, arrested on a prostitution charge.
While that is the conviction that has caused protest in relation to the erection of a statue in his honor, Berry was also convicted of armed robbery when he was a teenager, and tax evasion in 1979.