Ohio concert to go on despite protests from town residents

Thursday, April 15, 1999

An on-again, off-again heavy-metal rock concert in Streetsboro, Ohio, is on again after city leaders recently exempted school functions from a city-permit law.

But a group of residents last week pledged to fight the exemption that will allow a local high school to sponsor a concert featuring a shock-rock band. Spring Mosh '99, set for April 24 at Streetsboro High School, will go on despite the effort to bar students from organizing such concerts on school property in the future.

Students organized Spring Mosh '99 as a benefit heavy-metal rock concert for the high school's low-power radio station WSTB/88.9FM. Reports that local shock-rock band Mushroomhead planned to perform sparked community protests.

After the Streetsboro Board of Education last February refused to halt the concert, Mayor Sally Henzel denied organizers a required city permit. But the Streetsboro City Council amended the permit ordinance on March 8 to exempt school functions, thus allowing the concert to continue.

Students claimed that efforts to block the concert were based solely on the content of Mushroomhead's songs, and thus violated the students' free-expression rights.

Henzel didn't return calls from the First Amendment Center, but she told the Akron Beacon Journal that she opposed the concert for safety reasons. She said city law enforcement couldn't handle the crowd expected to attend the concert.

The sold-out concert is expected to draw more than 1,500 people and also includes such bands as Dolly Trauma, Hate Theory and NDE.

A group of residents protesting the concert filed a petition last week asking the council to repeal the ordinance amendment. The council, which meets again on April 26, could rescind the amendment or put it before the voters in November.