(from February 2000)
am est Public Enemy's Flavor Flav, Def
Jam Founder Decry Diallo Verdict: Acquittal
of officers accused of murdering unarmed African immigrant draws angry comments
website) Staff Writer Christopher O'Connor
Artists who previously protested the February 1999 police shooting and killing
of unarmed African immigrant Amadou Diallo expressed renewed dismay Monday
following the officers' acquittal on all charges last week.
"When I first heard that verdict, I was out of my mind. I'm like, no, this
can't be true," said Public Enemy's Flavor Flav, whose song
"41:19," on the group's album There's a Poison Goin' On, revealed his
anger over the shooting.
"How in the world can these cops get off for a brutal murder? That murder
was brutal. The man had bullets in his feet," Flavor Flav said.
Officers Kenneth Boss, Sean Carroll, Edward McMellon and Richard Murphy were
found not guilty of murder, manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide on
Friday in Albany, N.Y., where the trial was relocated. The four, according to
Reuters, testified that they believed Ghana native Diallo, 22, was about to pull
a gun on them as he stood in front of his apartment on Feb. 4, 1999. They fired
41 times and hit Diallo 19 times.
Boss, Carroll, McMellon and Murphy were reassigned to desk jobs following the
The case has been surrounded by controversy in the year since the shooting. This
weekend in New York City, in the wake of the verdict, marchers protested without
violent incident in the Bronx and Manhattan.
"Police officers are considered the insurians of the community," said
Raymond Murray, a member of the Atlanta-based production trio Organized Noize,
which produced the upcoming all-star protest single "One Four Love."
"[The jury] couldn't accept the fact [that it was an] uncalled-for,
racially motivated thing. I don't see any justification for them not to receive
any sort of punishment."
Murray, with his partners in Organized Noize, produced the two-part "One
Four Love" last year for the New York duo Black Star and an all-star lineup
of other rappers, including Kool G Rap, Rah Digga, Sporty Thievz, Common and
Pharoahe Monch, as well Black Star's Mos Def and Talib Kweli.
Black Star's 1998 debut album, Mos Def and Talib Kweli Are Black Star, featured
songs, such as "Astronomy" (RealAudio
excerpt), that dealt with racial identity and black nationalism.
Murray said he hoped that "One Four Love," which comes out as part of
the Black Star–spearheaded EPHip- Hop for Respect on March 14, serves as a
lasting rallying cry for fighting police brutality.
"I want it to be exactly [like] some of the old hip-hop records like
'Self-Destruction,' " Murray, 28, said. That 1989 song, addressing
black-on-black crime, featured Public Enemy, KRS-One, Just Ice and others.
Murray described the guitar-laden sound of "One Four Love" as having a
" '60s retro-rebellion feel."
Flavor Flav (born William Drayton), who lives in the Bronx, took a more hardcore
hip-hop approach to expressing his anger over the shooting on "41:19"
excerpt), one of the few times he's grabbed writing duties away from Public
Enemy partner Chuck D.
Over a tight snare drum and minimal keyboards, the rapper angrily condemns
racial profiling and unfair treatment of African Americans by police. The song
even parodies the theme of the TV show "Cops" ("Bad boys, bad
boys/ Whatcha gonna do?/ If you get caught by our motherfuckin' crew").
"There's a lot of good cops. But the bad cops are making the good cops look
real f---ed up," said Flavor Flav. "So everybody that's in a blue
suit, even if they're good, they're gonna [look] bad to people."
Russell Simmons, co-founder of Def Jam Recordings and regarded as one of
hip-hop's forefathers, also let his feelings be known on the Diallo verdict,
releasing a statement Friday.
"I am horrified by the outcome of the Diallo case," Simmons wrote.
"This verdict stands as another reason for the community to stand together
for a change. The hip-hop community moves as an army that has the power to elect
government and puts the people first vs. the officially sanctioned and promoted
police-state mentality of Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. This verdict will continue to
motivate me to be part of the aggressive effort that galvanizes our youth to
register, vote and make changes in the current system."
(Senior Writer Chris Nelson also contributed to this report.)
2.17.2000 Chuck D's
Online - Radio 1 Music News website)
Public Enemy's Chuck D is going on the net to talk
to students about rap, race and equality to celebrate America's Black History
Month. He’ll also talk about corporate business, TV, and the negative effect
the media has had on the nation's sense of individuality. His first cybercast
will be on Thursday 17th Feb at midnight. More details can be found on Chuck's
own website (www.rapstation.com).
to Dean's Tribute to Public Enemy (Main)