It’s been two and a half months (August 9th) since unarmed 18 year old Mike Brown was shot and killed by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson near St. Louis Missouri. Within days of this incident there were other unarmed young black men killed by police officers in the country including Eric Garner on July 17th in Staten Island, John Crawford on August 5th in a Beavercreek (near Dayton), Ohio Wal-Mart, and Ezell Ford on August 11th in South Los Angeles.
In 2012 RHHR published an article entitled “It Happens All the Time, but Sometimes People Notice” which discussed the killing of Trayvon Martin in context of the hundreds of other killings by police in the United States every year. This article was almost called “It Happens All the Time, but Sometimes People Notice Part 2” or maybe “It Happens All the Time, but Sometimes People Decide They’ve Had Enough.”
Like LA in 1992, Cincinnati in 2001, and Oakland in 2009 the situation in Ferguson, MO in 2014 boiled over into the streets made enough noise to get the attention of mainstream USA.
The outcomes of Mike Brown’s death and the events that followed are still being played out in many ways. Officer Darren Wilson has still not been arrested or charged and there is a good chance he won’t be. The usual conversations about race and police brutality have happened as well as the conversations about looting and throwing bottles. (Ask yourself one question: If Ferguson didn’t riot would it have been national news?) The more positive outcomes will probably come from the ground-level, grassroots organizing being done with the young people in Ferguson and the St. Louis area. Hopefully one day they will build enough solidarity and power to make a cop think twice about killing an unarmed kid.
Two (somewhat) new and unique aspects that came from this latest uprising was 1) the focused scrutiny put on government programs that give military grade equipment to law enforcement agencies around the country and 2) the number of Hip-Hop artists who got involved, sometimes very directly involved, and the various ways they lent their talents to this movement.
Here is a run-down of the Hip-Hop artists and activists who represented for Ferguson and the struggle against police brutality, violence, and terror:
A number of members of the rap community have spoken out in support of the protesters in Ferguson including Russell Simmons, Killer Mike, Young Jeezy, Wiz Khalifa, John Legend, and Chuck D.
Talib Kweli performed at the Hip-Hop 4 Justice concert and marched in Ferguson. He received the most attention after a heated interview with CNN’s Don Lemon:
A link to an article Talib Kweli wrote about his interaction with Don Lemon and his thoughts on Ferguson: http://www.finalcall.com/artman/publish/perspectives_1/article_101746.shtml
Rebel Diaz also performed at the concert and organized in solidarity with the protesters in Ferguson:
Rodstarz, one of the members of Rebel Diaz wrote about his experiences and the influence of Hip-Hop music and culture in the movement in Ferguson:
“Brown’s body was left on the floor uncovered for 4 ½ hours, as the police worked on their cover up. The young people in the community rose up and the rest is history. The uprising was met with the military occupation of this town populated by 20,000. Armed tanks and trucks with snipers on top pelted the people with rubber bullets, tear gas and smoke bombs. The show of military force and the resilient protestor’s bravery lasted about 14 days, and the usually absent corporate media could no longer avoid covering it. When they did cover it, they worked as the voice of the police by attempting to assassinate Mike Browns character and push a misinformation campaign against the protestors. After the tear gas smoke cleared and the media cameras left, those young people kept resisting and the police stayed on the offensive.
We rolled up playing Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power” and the crowd and energy got louder and stronger as the music got closer. We gave St Louis’ MC and local leader, Tef Poe the mic and pretty soon the whole crowd was jumping up and down, as we did chants mixed in with classic Hip Hop songs like NWA’s “F**k Tha Police,” KRS One “Sound of da Police,” and a list of songs by Tupac Shakur. But what is more important, we wanted to take the sound to amplify the voice of the young people…So as the DJ switched up the music, the energy reached its peak with songs like Lil Boosie’s “F**k The Police” and Soulja Slim’s song “Soulja Life Mentality.” It was amazing! The youth knew all the lyrics and were chanting them at the top of their lungs.
The next day was the Hip-Hop for Justice show, which featured Talib Kweli, dead prez, The RDACBX (Rebel Diaz, YC the Cynic), Jasiri X, Tef Poe and Lost Voices who also have MCs in their crew. Everybody killed their sets and the show was super packed, in fact there was a line outside that couldn’t get in…So while they shared Boosie with us, they also got to hear Talib and dead prez rock out and show them love. Mumia Abu Jamal called in, Dr. Cornel West showed up and spoke to the crowd.”
Read the full article at: http://allhiphop.com/2014/10/18/the-power-of-hip-hop-and-the-changing-of-the-guard-in-fergusonoctober/
Jasiri X also performed at the concert spent a lot of time in Ferguson talking to the youth and organizing with the community and released the song 212 Degrees:
Tef Poe is a local Hip-Hop artist from the St. Louis area and has been a major participant in Ferguson protests, demonstrations, and concerts:
dead prez also visited Ferguson and performed at the concert:
Souls of Mischief showed support for Mike Brown and victims of police brutality in this interview:
The Game, Diddy, Rick Ross, 2 Chainz, Fabolous, Wale, DJ Khaled, Swizz Beatz, Yo Gotti, Currensy, Problem, King Pharaoh, & TGT released the song “Don’t Shoot.” Sales from the song will benefit the Mike Brown Memorial Fund on GoFundMe, which raised nearly $300,000 in two weeks:
Rosa Clemente, a Hip-Hop activist and scholar, was also on the ground in Ferguson and interviewed here with Talib Kweli on Democracy Now!:
Nelly, from St. Louis, visited Ferguson, started a scholarship for teens in honor of Mike Brown, and discussed punishment for officers that abuse their power in this interview with CNN:
David Banner visited and gave support to the protesters in Ferguson:
Killer Mike did interviews and gave support to the protesters in Ferguson:
Common discussed Ferguson at the BET Music Awards and brought Mike Brown’s parents on stage during the event:
G-Unit released the anti-police song “Ahhh Sh!t” in support of Eric Garner and Mike Brown:
J-Cole visited Ferguson and released the song “Be Free” in solidarity with the protesters:
Lauryn Hill performed the song “Black Rage” at a concert in support of the protesters in Ferguson:
T.I. gave support to the protesters in Ferguson and released the song “New National Anthem” which he wrote after the 2013 acquittal of George Zimmerman in the killing of Trayvon Martin:
Vinnie Paz published comments on Facebook in support of the protesters in Ferguson:
“Ebola has infected NO ONE in the general population, yet there’s mass hysteria. the leader of ISIS is a CIA asset, but you think of them as a legitimate threat.… but only 68 days after his murder, you forgot about Mike Brown? there have been over 300 arrests since he was killed. none of those arrested go by the name of Darren Wilson. wake the fuck up, or get woke the fuck up.”
Pharrell Williams discussed Ferguson in an interview with CNN:
Other Hip-Hop related videos discussing the shooting of Mike Brown and the protests in Ferguson: