New York Police Mum Regarding Springsteen's 'American Skin'

Rocker to release controversial Diallo-inspired song on new Live in New York City.

The same people who responded with outrage to Bruce Springsteen's performance of "American Skin (41 Shots)" last summer are keeping mum now that the song will be released today (April 3) on the socially conscious rocker's Live in New York City.

The tune, which comments on the 1999 police shooting of Amadou Diallo in the unarmed Guinean immigrant's Bronx vestibule, drew fire and insults from Bob Lucente, the president of the New York chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police. Lucente called Springsteen a "dirtbag" and a "floating fag" but later apologized for the slur.

Lucente had no comment on the CD and radio release of "American Skin" (RealAudio excerpt), which includes the repeated refrain "41 shots" in reference to the number of bullets fired at Diallo. The song also includes the lyrics, "You can get killed just for living in your American skin."

Other police representatives who criticized Springsteen and the song, including Patrick Lynch, head of the New York City

Patrolmen's Benevolent Organization, also had no comment, nor did Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who accused Springsteen and others of "trying to create the impression that the police officers are guilty."

The police involved in the shooting were acquitted of murder and manslaughter charges in February 2000.

In an interview with the Associated Press published Monday (April 2), Springsteen said he was surprised at the outcry over the song, which the Boss debuted in Atlanta and then played each night of his 10-date Madison Square Garden stand at the end of June and beginning of July.

"I wasn't expecting it," he told the news service. "For me, it was a continuation of my work for the last 20-25 years. I think race is the central issue facing this country in the new century, and I wanted to write about it."