Rappers Say Riots Work — But Backlash Could Hamstring Democrats
-Image Credit: Associated Press
The hip-hop team known as Run the Jewels — El-P and Killer Mike — believes the riots that tore apart the communities of Ferguson and Baltimore were good for America because that is the best way to bring about positive social change.
A new study by Omar Wasow, an assistant professor in the Department of Politics at Princeton University, shows El-P and Killer Mike are more correct than even the rappers believe. But, Wasow concludes, the effect of rioting is exactly the opposite of what Run the Jewels believes.
“Riots work,” Killer Mike told the BBC. “Ferguson was over 60 percent as a black community. They had less than 60 percent representation in politics, far less. Post-riots they have two new black city council members, they have actual advocates in the community now, the police chief retired.”
He said, “If it’s argued that riots worked in Ferguson, abso-f**ng-lutely they did.”
Killer Mike and El-P happened to be performing Aug. 9 in St. Louis, Mo., the night a grand jury returned with its decision not to indict Darren Wilson, a Ferguson police officer, in the shooing death of Michael Brown.
The liberal online publication Think Progress reported that inspired Killer Mike to make an emotional tribute to Brown on stage, telling the crowd he was “kicked on my ass when I listened to that prosecutor.”
“I would like to say rest in peace to Michael Brown,” the rapper said as the crowd began cheering. “I would like to give all thoughts and prayers to the people who are out there peacefully protesting.”
Killer Mike paraphrased Martin Luther King Jr. when he told his audience, “And I also give thoughts and prayers for the people who could not hold their anger in, because riots are only the language of the unheard.”
Riot “the unheard” did. They burned down more than a dozen buildings following the grand jury decision. St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar told reporters that night, “Unless we bring 10,000 policemen in here, I don’t think we can prevent folks that are destroying a community.”
Months after Ferguson was wracked by violence following the grand jury’s decision, a neighborhood in Baltimore burned in April due to a riot prompted by the death of a black man, Freddie Gray, while in police custody.
President Obama branded those rioters as “criminals and thugs” who were “destroying and undermining opportunities and businesses in their own communities.”
They might have also been costing the Democrats any hope of putting Hillary Clinton in the White House in 2016.