In the wake of Friday's Sean Bell verdict, in which three New York police detectives were acquitted of gunning down the Queens native, people are still expressing their outrage.
On Monday (April 28), Bell's supporters were urged to wear black in protest of the case's outcome. The most resonant opposition is coming from the hip-hop community. MCs are putting their influence to use, releasing statements and songs that express their feelings.
The Game is planning to release the response record "911 Is a Joke" via his Web site, ThisIzGame.com, on Tuesday. "I'm outraged and speaking out for my generation that are afraid to speak out against police brutality and murder," the L.A. native explained. "I grew up in Compton and had to stay silent because of the fear that was prevalent in my community. But now that I have a voice, I'm speaking out. ... [Sean Bell] could have easily been me, my brother, my family. So this song is for Sean Bell from my heart. My deepest condolences go out to his family."
Mobb Deep's Prodigy, who is currently in jail for a gun conviction, spoke up from behind bars. "We lost a lot of battles, but we will win the war," he said in a statement. "The decision in the Queens courtroom on Friday was simply a display of power. The NYPD is just a branch of corruption connected to a giant corrupt tree called the United States government. ... The Sean Bell murder cover-up is less about race and more about power. This evil family tree of corruption will do whatever it takes to remain in a position of power. They will put a judge who they can control on the case, in order to get the outcome they want and eliminate the risk of being exposed and exposing the higher-ups. I want to be very clear that all judges, DAs, lawyers and cops are not corrupt, just most of them."
"The Sean Bell murder itself was a reflection of how expendable black men are in the eyes of many," Queens MC Cormega said. "The verdict was a far worse crime because it stripped a dead man of his rights and it stripped a community of hope. We came so far as a people yet gained little momentum, but I would like to thank society for reopening my eyes to the myth called equality and the justice that eludes just us."
Soon after the Bell murder in 2006, Brooklyn's Papoose was one of the first MCs to vocalize his horror at the tragedy with the record "50 Shots." "No justice, no peace/ Another black man shot dead in the streets," he rapped on the track. " ... You thought he had a gun/ That means you shot him for nothing, 'cause he ain't have one."
Speaking to MTV News on Tuesday, Pap expressed that the verdict on Friday was not surprising. "It's a pattern of what goes on in the NYPD," he said. "This has gone on for years with black people in America. I was upset. I was real furious about it. It sends a message that they don't value our lives. I feel they walked in the courtroom laughing, and they walked out of the courtroom laughing."
The officers on trial, Gescard Isnora, Michael Oliver and Marc Cooper, were acquitted on reckless-endangerment, assault and manslaughter charges. Judge Arthur J. Cooperman levied the verdict. "Once they waived their rights [for a jury], I seen it was suspect," Pap added. "I knew it would be no justice. They got a judge with the same mentality as them. ... It's blatant. Kids are left without a father, and the cops are going on with their life like it never happened."
The hip-hop community will definitely not let the situation rest: Grafh put out a song called "Not Guilty (The People's Verdict)" on Sunday night, and Papoose is going to speak on the subject again.
"It's never too late," Pap said about putting out songs. "It's gonna happen again until they do something about it. I commend everybody who has stepped forward, because it says something. In hip-hop, we have a strong voice. People listen to our words."
Prodigy added that it will take more than music to make changes. "People of all races need to come together to control our government and run a giant comb through it, so we can see the filth that comes out," Prodigy said. "Right now, we have a government that controls the people, instead of people that control their government. Until we can do that, there'll be several more incidents like the murder of Sean Bell. America is under a spell, and we need to snap out of it."