On June 5th the London newspaper The Guardian released a report that sustained the suspicions and rumors that have been held for over a decade now: the Federal Government, through the various corporate media and communication companies (Verizon, Google, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, AT&T, etc…), spied on and collected the digital records and information of millions of United States citizens who had not committed any crime. The information came from NSA-private contractor Edward Snowden who blew the whistle (like Too $hort) on the spying programs after learning of their clear violation of people’s privacy and human rights. Since then we’ve learned all about the various NSA,CIA, FBI, and even Post Office surveillance schemes aimed at keeping track of every interaction we have.
Now that the average citizen feels like their life is being pried into people are crying out about the surveillance/police state, but these violations of basic constitutional rights is nothing new to all kinds of groups of Revolutionaries, Radicals, Organizers, and Activists. Since the early 1960s the FBI and Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO) listened to the phone calls of Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, infiltrated anti-war and student movements, sabotaged Native American and Chicano organizations, and purposely created violent riffs between West Coast and East Coast Black Panther Party factions (sound familiar).
Perhaps a little less well-known (but still part of the same growing and expanding surveillance culture/police state with the goal of crushing any opposition to current power structure, capitalist system, and its elite group of beneficiaries) is targeted, unwarranted, and essentially illegal practices of several law enforcement agencies to collected and store binders full of information on Hip-Hop artists, producers, promoters, and other associates. That’s right, federal and local cops are keeping track of your Hip-Hop crew, what they do, where they do it, and who they do it with.
Revelations of the “Hip-Hop Cops” came in 2005 with the release of the documentary Black and Blue: Legends of the Hip-Hop Cop, where former NYPD detective Derrick Parker displays the binder where he gathered information about dozens of Hip-Hop artists who were not under suspicion of any specific crime. Parker reveals how he was encouraged to collect the personal and business data on rappers including Snoop Dogg, The Game, 50 Cent, Ja-Rule, Jay-Z, Lil’ Kim, and many more starting in 1998. “I was the one who started the whole thing,” Parker told MTV News. “The chief wanted me to run this entire investigation for him and to report to him.”
According to MTV News: “Parker said that for more than four years he gathered intelligence on the rap community, compiled files, went to nightclubs and interviewed rappers who were jammed up in criminal cases.” “It’s definitely a task force,” Fat Joe said. “You go to hip-hop spots now and they ain’t just your normal walking-the-beat cops. There’s cops out there in undercover cars like they know something we don’t know. Like bin Laden’s in the club, B.” “It’s just a thing where it’s targeting hip-hop,” Fabolous said. “I don’t think you should target something. If it’s a problem, you go handle the problem.” “It’s called the Entertainment Task Force,” Keith Murray said. “They watch you as far as on the streets, and they watch you as far as monetary operations, taxes, who’s paying who what, where you getting money from. They got they scope on rappers right now.”
In Black and Blue it is also revealed that the Miami Police Department carried out similar data gathering on Hip-Hop artists and their entourages during that time, a tactic practiced as late recent as 2004. According to rapnewsdirect.com: “Miami and Miami Beach police are secretly watching and keeping dossiers on hip-hop celebrities like P. Diddy and DMX and their entourages when they come to South Florida. Officers say they have photographed rappers as they arrived at Miami International Airport. They stake out hotels, nightclubs and video shoots. They consult a six-inch-thick black binder of every rapper and member of his or her group.”
Other documentaries, such as Hip Hop Police: True Story of Hip Hop, NYPD, LAPD, and DEA have since added more evidence to the claims that the Hip-Hop community is being targeted and monitored. According to streetgangs.com: “In this stunning documentary, director Don Sikorski uncovers a 500+ page dossier that he surprisingly received after several freedom of information requests were denied. This government compiled dossier is jam-packed with personal and sensitive information on the industry’s artists and players including addresses, social security numbers, associates on everyone in the music game. Not only does Rap Sheet prove that the Hip-Hop Cops exist, but it also traces to Washington Heights, and its ties to the NYPD, FBI, DEA and IRS.”
Of course mainstream America didn’t come running to the aid of rap stars and ensure their rights weren’t being violated and now here we are a decade later and we find that there is a “black binder” or “dossier” on all of us out in the desert of Utah and they’re adding more of your info everyday.
There’s an old saying that goes something like “first they came for the Revolutionaries, but I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Revolutionary. Then they came for the Hip-Hop artists, but I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Hip-Hop artist, then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out.” Something like that…