Hammer Goes To “Jail” To Protest Prop 21

On Super Tuesday, MC Hammer emerged from “prison,” according to sources at the popular West Coast hip-hop station KMEL-FM.

Hammer served a term of three days, from March 5 to March 7, in a makeshift jail cell to raise awareness of the issues surrounding California’s Proposition 21.

A slew of propositions came up for vote on Tuesday, and Prop 21, also known as the “juvenile crime bill,” permits prosecutors to try juveniles as young as 14 as adults if they are charged with murder or certain sex crimes.

KMEL helped organize MC Hammer’s protest, which took place outside San Jose’s Jubilee Christian Center, where the performer serves as a pastor. (His weekly sermon, “Hammer Time,” takes place every Sunday at 6 p.m.) KMEL placed its banners at Hammer’s protest site and encouraged voters to vote “no” on Proposition 21, which also seeks to classify assemblies of three or more persons as a “gang.”

Larry Jackson, assistant music director at Bay Area station KMEL, told MTV
News, “Our street teams could be construed as gangs if they’re out doing promotion and marketing. The people of KMEL and in the community are very against Proposition 21.”

Besides MC Hammer, many other hip-hop notables have tried to educate voters on the hidden clauses of Prop 21, such as potential life sentences without parole for juvenile murderers, with the hopes of preventing the proposition from passing.

Mos Def, Me’Shell N’degeocello and Ozomatli performed at a “Schools Not Jail, No On Prop 21″ concert in Santa Cruz on March 3 (see “Ozomatli, Black Star Unite For School Not Jails Show” ). And on February 21, local Bay Area musicians held a “Hip-Hop Will Prevail” concert outside Oakland’s City Hall which was attended by hundreds of school children who had the day off for President’s Day.

Unfortunately for its opponents, Proposition 21 passed in California on Super Tuesday by a wide margin. Says KMEL’s Jackson, “once something
is passed, it’s hard to do anything about it. But if need be, we’ll be the voice of the community.”