Florida Georgia Line says they're not anti-police after Country Thunder incident

Deputies in 2 states told not to patrol backstage
Posted at 4:22 PM, Jul 26, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-27 16:55:02-04

Before the country music duo Florida Georgia Line lit up the night at the Country Thunder music festival in Kenosha County last weekend, authorities tell TODAY’S TMJ4 that the band said it didn't want law enforcement deputies backstage, sparking some controversy online.

The band and Country Thunder officials are now describing the incident as "blown out of proportion." 

Sgt. Eric Klinkhammer, with the Kenosha County Sheriff's Department, said deputies still patrolled behind the stage, despite the band's request not to do so.

"100 law enforcement officers are there everyday," said Sheriff Beth said during a Tuesday press conference.  

Sheriff Beth also said that the backstage area is part of the festival grounds and it's the responsibility of deputies to patrol the area. He said that on Tuesday, he received a call from a band member, Brian Kelley, saying it was just a misunderstanding.

But Sheriff Beth finds that hard to believe.

"You wouldn't have the same story from two different sheriffs in two different states, two nights apart," Sheriff Beth said.

Across the Wisconsin-Iowa line, Jones County, Iowa Sheriff Greg Graver says he received the same unusual request from Florida Georgia Line, not to patrol the backstage area. Sheriff Beth said he learned this after speaking with the Iowa sheriff via telephone. Click here to read Sheriff Graver's statement.

Meanwhile back in Wisconsin, authorities tell TODAY'S TMJ4 that the request was “very unusual” and in fact, it’s never happened in the many years the sheriff’s office has been providing additional security for the weekend-long music festival.

"This was a strange occurrence for us last weekend," Sheriff Beth said.

"After talking to Mr. Kelley, he seems to be very much in support of police and all the things they do. If you really look back at the country (music) culture, country music, and down south,  this group of people,  they are very much in support of law enforcement, and the military," Sheriff Beth said.

The band later requested that they be escorted out of the venue by law enforcement, but Sheriff Beth says his deputies never received the request, and pointed out that the distance for the escort is very short. 

Meanwhile, the band took to social media Tuesday afternoon and issued a statement on Twitter, saying they didn't mean to show disrespect toward law enforcement. 

“You won't find two guys who are more supportive of police than we are. What happened over the weekend was a misunderstanding that was blown out of proportion and taken out of context. There is nothing more to this story beyond our team feeling that it would be redundant for us to use local authorities when we are already covered," the band tweeted. 

"Our management is routinely asked if they need help from local law enforcement for additional security backstage at concerts, which is common among touring acts. Some acts accept the offer, but most don’t because they have their own security, or the promoters provide it," their statement continued.

Florida Georgia Line is no stranger to performing in Wisconsin, and typically with a positive reaction from fans. In fact in 2014, the band made a surprise appearance at Summerfest during a Luke Bryan concert.