When famed country music star Darius Rucker was asked to sing at the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony at the Rockefeller Center, it’s unlikely he anticipated the controversy that would follow.
As Rucker began singing “White Christmas,” people protesting the death of Eric Garner, a black man who was killed by a white police officer in Staten Island, flooded the Rockefeller Center and the surrounding area.
On Wednesday, Staten Island Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo, 29, was not indicted for killing Eric Garner with a chokehold, although the coroner ruled Garner’s death a homicide. Since then, waves of protestors against police brutality and racism have been making themselves heard around the country.
Shortly after Rucker crooned the classic holiday tune, people turned to Twitter to voice their objections. “The irony of watching Darius Rucker singing 'White Christmas' around the corner from the #EricGarner protest is mind-blowing #ShutItDown,” tweeted Bryon Vann, a law student based in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Rich Villar tweeted: “Darius Rucker singing White Christmas in Rockefeller Center. One block over, streets shut down for Eric Garner. Utterly surreal.”
Christian rapper BraekHaven, also known as Hicklen Jeremiah, was similarly stunned by the apparent juxtaposition and tweeted: “Darius Rucker On TV singing [‘White Christmas’] In NY Like [he’s] Free In America. [We’re] tired of These ‘White' Christmases.”
For his part, Darius Rucker has not responded to the criticism, but he previously voiced his excitement about his upcoming christmas album: “We wanted to have a little something for everybody. We wanted to make a crooner record with that old Frank Sinatra/Bing Crosby/Johnny Mathis kind of way, but we also wanted a couple of things that could be for the younger audience. As it came together, I became more and more excited.”