/  10.06.2021


Pharrell Williams’ Something in the Water festival will not be returning to Virginia Beach next year after the mega-producer said the city was run by “toxic energy.” In a letter addressed to the Virginia Beach city manager, Pharrell claimed his proposed solutions have not been valued by city leaders in the wake of a Virginia Beach police officer’s fatal shooting of his cousin, Donovon Lynch.

“… I’ve always loved the city of Virginia Beach and most importantly our people… but for far too long it has been run by — and with toxic energy,” the Virginia Beach native wrote on Tuesday (Oct. 5). 

“When we did the festival, it was to ease racial tension, to unify the region, bring about economic development opportunities and broaden the horizons of the local business community. We achieved those things!” he continued. “I wish the same energy I’ve felt from Virginia Beach leadership upon losing the festival would’ve been similarly channeled following the loss of my relative’s life.”

Pharrell wrote the letter in response to City Manager Patrick Duhaney, who wrote him last week saying he felt “immense disappointment” that Something in the Water may not be returning to Virginia Beach. 

“We have not lost sight of the intangible, unquantifiable impact the festival has had on the social fabric of our community,” Duhaney wrote, also asking Pharrell to meet with him in person before making a final decision about the festival.

Pharrell did not acknowledge the request in his response.

“The toxic energy that changed the narrative several times around the homicide of my cousin, Donovon 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 wrote. 

“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 any problems with the city, but I realize the city hasn’t valued my proposed solutions, either,” he added.

Something in the Water was canceled last and this year due to Coronavirus concerns. On Wednesday (Oct. 6), WAVY reported that festival organizer Donna MacMillan-Whitaker confirmed “there will not be a Something in the Water festival in 2022 — at least, not in Virginia Beach.” It’s unclear whether or not the festival might take place in another city. 

As reported by REVOLT, Lynch was shot and killed by a Virginia Beach police officer whose body-worn camera was turned off on March 26. Police claim Lynch brandished a firearm, which his family has denied. His family also said he was legally licensed to carry a gun.

After Lynch’s death, Pharrell and many local residents called for answers from city leaders and the police department. 

“Knowing that if Donovon had been white he wouldn’t have gotten shot multiple times and left in the street for an inhumane amount of time, ’til the next morning, no gun in hand—that’s gravity,” he told Town & Country Magazine in June. Read Pharrell’s full letter below.

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