Kanye West and Rage boycott US state

02/06/10

Kanye West

Kanye West is among a group of artists who are refusing to play gigs in Arizona, protesting against recent changes to immigration law in the US state.

A group called The Sound Strike led by Los Angeles rockers Rage Against The Machine and featuring Cypress Hill, Massive Attack and System Of A Down's Serj Tankian, are boycotting performing shows until law SB 1070 is amended.

In April, Arizona passed a law requiring police to check the immigration status of people suspected of being in the US illegally.

In a statement, Rage Against The Machine's lead singer Zach de la Rocha said: "Some of us grew up dealing with racial profiling, but this law takes it to a whole new low."

State boycott

Writing on the group's website de la Rocha described the situation as "critical" and concluded that, "We are not going to play in Arizona. We are going to boycott Arizona.

Rage Against The Machine
Image caption Rage Against The Machine's Zach de la Rocha is an opponent of the new law

"If other states follow the direction of the Arizona government, we could be headed towards a pre-civil rights era reality."

Supporters of the bill say the legislation will protect lawful residents.

As recently as last week, a group of US police chiefs held a meeting with US Attorney General Eric Holder warning that Arizona's the law could increase crime when it's introduced at the end of July.

US President Barack Obama has been critical of the Arizona law and has asked Attorney General Holder to look into the possibility of filing a court challenge against it.

Musician's protest

Artists have famously used their music to stage political protests in the past.

U2's Bono used the band's most recent tour to highlight his support for Burmese political prisoner Aung San Suu Kyi. In 2006, Morrissey boycotted playing gigs in Canada in protest against the country's annual seal hunt.

Rage themselves have been outspoken many times, including opposing the war on Iraq and, more recently, the closure of an urban farm in Los Angeles.

Rage Against The Machine are due to play in the UK this weekend (6 June), a free gig they're hosting at London's Finsbury Park to thank fans for getting them to the 2009 UK Christmas number one spot.