Pharrell Williams will not be returning his music festival Something in the Water to his hometown of Virginia Beach in 2022, citing the city’s “toxic energy” and the March police killing of his 25-year-old cousin Donovan Lynch.
The festival launched in 2019, but the 2020 and 2021 editions were cancelled due to COVID-19. Now, it seems the inaugural fest will be the only one held at Virginia Beach.
“I love my city, but for far too long it has been run by and with toxic energy,” he wrote in an October 5th letter to Virginia Beach city manager Patrick Duhaney. “The toxic energy that changed the narrative several times around the homicide of my cousin, Donovan 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,” he said in reference to a 2019 mass shooting that left 12 dead.
He added, “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 a problem with the city, but I realize the city hasn’t valued my proposed solutions, either.”
Williams wrote this in a retort to a September 29th letter from Duhaney, in which the city manager lamented the lost “economic impact,” and said, “With great humility we hope that you and Festival leadership might be willing to meet with us in person to discuss our partnership.”
In response, Williams wrote, “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.”
According to local news outlet WAVY, his cousin Lynch was shot and killed by a police officer on March 26th. The officer’s bodycam was turned off, and he later claimed that Lynch had brandished a weapon. The victim’s family disputes this version of events, and said Lynch was legally allowed to carry a gun.
Festival organizer Donna MacMillan-Whitaker confirmed to WAVY that if Something in the Water is held in 2022, it will not be in the city of Virginia Beach. Check out Duhaney and Williams’ letters below.
— Ali Weatherton 13News Now (@13AliWeatherton) October 5, 2021