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April 08, 2016 05:05 PM

City Hall Supports SMG Decision To Allow Ralphie May Concert At Orpheum

Sioux Falls, SD

The City of Sioux Falls is standing by the decision to go ahead with next week's concert by comedian Ralphie May, despite a public backlash over his racially-charged comments about Native Americans that were recently posted online. The city says despite the controversy, it's a matter of holding up its end of a contract.

The Sanford Center in Bemidji, Minnesota has canceled Ralphie May's concert this weekend citing concerns about inappropriate material. Some people are calling on Sioux Falls to follow suit and cancel May's show at the city-owned Orpheum Theater next Wednesday night. But as of right now, the show will go on.

Few people are laughing about Ralphie May's profanity-laced put-downs of Native Americans. But Sioux Falls City Finance Director Tracy Turbak says that's not grounds to cancel his comedy show in Sioux Falls.

"As a local government, we're not in a position to infringe on the exercise of free speech by prohibiting certain statements or subjects by individual entertainment acts," Turbak said.

Turbak wouldn't agree to an on-camera interview and wouldn't say whether or not the city gave any serious consideration of canceling May's show.

"We do support the decision made by our facility manager SMG to honor its contractual obligation to host the show," Turbak said.

Mayor Mike Huether referred us to City Attorney Dave Pfeifle to talk about the Ralphie May concert. But Pfeifle repeatedly sent us back to Turbak.

"I refer you back to our contract administrator who deals with SMG, Tracy Turbak," Pfeifle said.

May posted an apology on YouTube, saying his comments were taken out of context. Turbak said any opinions expressed by May are not shared by the city, or endorsed by the city.

We also reached out to SMG, but they turned down our request for an on-camera interview.

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