All Articles Tagged "gun violence"

Is It Right That Rappers Are Being Arrested Over Violent Rap Lyrics?

June 26th, 2015 - By Charing Ball
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Unfortunately, it is not unusual to read about rappers getting arrested for engaging in criminal activity, but what about getting arrested for pretending to be gangsters in a music video?

That is what happened to an unsigned hype from Jersey City, New Jersey. Sort of. According to reports by All Hip Hop.com and NJ.com, nine members of a New Jersey Bloods gang, who also make up the hip-hop group DFG, were arrested for brandishing a gun while filming their their music video. The video, which is for their first single called “MoneyCello,” was posted about a year ago, but somehow it recently caught the attention of the Jersey City Street Crimes Unit who used the “evidence” to get an arrest warrant for the nine men.

According to published reports, one of the rappers was apprehended while at his full-time non-rap gig at a warehouse. Another was arrested while in bed with his girlfriend. During the raids, which included a search for the YouTube music video, police found small amounts of drugs and other paraphernalia in their homes; however, none of the reports specify if the actual guns (or any guns for that matter) used in the music video were recovered. Still, experts from the Newark Police Department’s Ballistic Lab are certain that the guns used in the video were real and have determined that one of the handguns was either a 9mm or a .380 semi-automatic.

And because of the video, which prior to their arrest had only a couple thousand views, the rap group is looking at a litany of charges, including felony unlawful possession of a handgun.

This is not the first time rappers have been arrested for their stellar performances. Last year in San Francisco, Bayview plainclothes officers raided the set of a rap music video and arrested 20 people on various charges, including suspicion of being a felon in possession of a loaded semi-automatic handgun and suspicion of selling drugs. And in 2014, two rappers out of Pittsburgh were arrested and convicted of intimidating witnesses, making terroristic threats and conspiracy. This all stemmed from a YouTube rap video, which included a lyric that threatened two Pittsburgh police officers who arrested the pair in the past on unrelated gun and drug charges. The song also referenced a cop killer who had gunned down three officers in 2009.  The rappers were sentenced to a minimum of two years in prison.

An article from The New York Times entitled “Legal Debate on Using Boastful Rap Lyrics as a Smoking Gun” recently took note of this growing trend in law enforcement. According to the report, in the last two years alone there have been three dozen prosecutions in which rap lyrics were used as either confessions or to help paint an “unsavory picture of a defendant to help establish motive and intent.” As reported by the Times, prosecutors and law enforcement alike see rap lyrics as an important crime fighting tool, however:

“The proliferation of cases has alarmed many scholars and defense lawyers, who say that independent of a defendant’s guilt or innocence, the lyrics are being unfairly used to prejudice judges and juries who have little understanding that, for all its glorification of violence, gangsta rappers are often people who have assumed over-the-top and fictional personas.”

I have to agree with the scholars and defense lawyers. Rappers, particularly those who rap about the streets, are easy prey because they are involved in a profession that requires them to portray violent images and hyper-masculinity. And it really does seem like these law enforcement agencies and prosecutors are exploiting the general public’s–particularly White America’s– ignorance and disdain for hip-hop music to prosecute otherwise difficult cases. Likewise, I am sure there are tons of Hollywood directors being violent gang-related films sitting in their mansions with tons of cocaine and other drugs stuffed up their noses like Tony Montana in Scarface. And yet, I can’t recall a single one of them being targeted for felonies.

The question that comes to mind when I think of this case in New Jersey is how does one determine the authenticity of a gun from a video on YouTube? I know high definition helps to add more resolution to people and things, but it sure as hell doesn’t make them three dimensional. I mean we are talking about law enforcement agencies that can’t always tell the difference between a toy gun and a real gun in the hands of a 12-year-old boy.

But what do folks think? Is this fair or are aspiring rappers being set up by a malicious and opportunistic court system? Leave your comments below.

[Watch] Viola Davis And Jennifer Lopez Are Vengeful Killers In “Lila And Eve”

June 5th, 2015 - By Lauren R.D. Fox
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This summer, Viola Davis and Jennifer Lopez will take the screen in the dramatic indie film, Lila And Eve. Previewed in January at the Sundance Film Festival, Lila And Eve centers around two mothers whose children have died.

The women meet one another at a grief support meeting and quickly form a friendship. When Lila is not satisfied with the police investigation regarding her son’s death, Eve encourages her to take matters into her own hands. The two then begin to investigate the case and find Lila’s son’s killer, however,  they become extremely vengeful in the process.

With drama, murder, grief and drugs intertwining in the film, it appears Lila And Eve will be nothing short of a hit summer thriller.

Directed by Charles Stone III (Drumline), Lila And Eve will debut on July 17th in theaters and on demand.

Take a look at the trailer, below!

Wear Orange: Friends and Family Remember Hadiya Pendleton On Her Would-Be-18th Birthday

June 2nd, 2015 - By Veronica Wells
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We all remember the senseless and tragic death of 15-year-old Chicago student Hadiya Pendleton two years ago.

The honor student was trying to shield herself from the rain, under a park canopy, when a young man jumped the fence and opened fire, presumably targeting other gang members in the park.

Pendleton’s death made national news as she had just performed in President Obama’s second inauguration a few days prior. First Lady, Michelle Obama identified personally with Hadiya being that she too was a stellar student from Chicago. She was so moved she spoke at Pendleton’s funeral.

Today, on what would have been Pendleton’s 18th birthday, her friends, family members, community members as well as supporters across the country have banded together to remember her by wearing orange.

According to the Chicago Tribune, months after her death, Hadiya’s friends started the Wear Orange campaign to raise awareness about gun violence in their community and across the nation. They chose orange in reference to hunter’s orange, a very bright and fluorescent color that lets others know they are not to be targeted by other people.

The Wear Orange campaign started the first National Gun Violence Awareness Day in honor of Hadiya and others who’ve lost their lives.

Today, from 3:30-8 p.m., Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel will join with other city leaders at a Wear Orange Party for Peace in Harold Washington Park to honor those lives.

You can watch Hadiya’s friends, family and other community members talk about the initiative in the video below.

Stop The Violence: Celebs Whose Relatives Were Victims Of Gun Violence

January 7th, 2015 - By Iva Anthony
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Despite having wealth and fame, no one is immune from suffering a family tragedy. These celebrities understand all too well the current climate of the country as they too were affected by gun violence after a relative was shot or killed.

Celebs Whose Relatives Were Victims Of Gun Violence

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Jennifer Hudson

In 2008, Jennifer Hudson lost several family members to gun violence. Her brother-in-law William Balfour killed her mother, brother and seven-year-old nephew. He was reportedly upset that his estranged wife Julia, the famous singer’s sister, had been seeing another man. Four years later, Balfour was sentenced to three consecutive life sentences plus an additional 120 years.

11-Year-Old Shot In Miami Nightclub, Over A Dozen Shots Fired

September 30th, 2014 - By Madame Noire
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From The Grio

An 11-year-old was shot, along with 14 other people, in a

shooting that broke out at a Miami nightclub early Sunday morning, according to various reports.

Drinks were flowing and music was pumping, according to a vivid report from the Miami Herald, when suddenly gun shots rang out. Witnesses told the paper they heard at least dozens if not more than 100 shots fired in the packed strip mall club.

Miami authorities told The Associated Press that when local police and rescue crews arrived at “The Spot” around 1 in the morning, they discovered a chaotic crush of teens and adults reeling from the shooting, with wounded people both inside and outside the club. Victims included one wounded male who was unresponsive and not breathing when emergency responders arrived on the scene.

Some people were running, “people were screaming, people were saying they were shot,” Miami Fire Rescue Capt. Ignatius Carroll told the AP.

Read more about this case at TheGrio.com 

“Change Has GOT To Come!!!” Monica Mourns The Loss Of A Good Friend Shot And Killed; Takes Stand Against Gun Violence

August 25th, 2014 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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singer Monica

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Gun violence is something that has affected many of us, and it’s something that is currently impacting singer Monica and her family. A good friend of her family (a best friend of her brother-in-law David Brown) was recently shot and killed, and the singer took to social media to get his name and his story out there. She, like so many, is tired of these shootings becoming so common.

“With a heavy heart & tear filled eyes I send all my love and condolences to my brother @dcaffe & his family RIP Chris your friendship & loyalty to my brother made you MY FAMILY… I’ve stopped asking why to ask WHEN.. When will these senseless acts of violence stop.. You were gunned down, taken from your children & in this cold cruel world that cares more now about reporting fashion & who’s dating who there was barely a mention on the news.. #WakeUpWorld the old burying the young is NOT the way it’s supposed to be. People only care for us as much as we care for ourselves … Change has GOT to come!!! #GoneToSoon”

We give our condolences to Monica, the Brown family and the family of her friend Chris in their loss. We too are hoping that a change will come sooner than later.

 

 

There’s An $11B Fund To Help Victims Of Violent Crime, But Black Men Are Often Left Out

August 5th, 2014 - By Kimberly Gedeon
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Still image from the Moguldom Studios film “Gunland

Unfortunately, violent crime is an everyday occurrence in the US. Under the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) of 1984, victims are supposed to be granted support services in the aftermath. But according to Colorlines, many young Black men are not deemed “innocent” enough to receive such assistance.

As part of its Life Cycles of Inequity series, Colorlines launched an investigation into government funding for crime victims and why young Black men seem to get the short end of the stick. VOCA is an $11 billion fund established by Congress, but victims of color rarely see a dime.

“…[L]aw enforcement often serves as arbiter of who’s a deserving victim and who’s not,” Colorlines says. And they decide “who gets aid and who must fend for themselves.” In other words, psychological, emotional, and financial support for young Black assault victims hinges on the “yay” or “nay” of police officers.

“The biases that exist around black men lead people to think of them first and foremost as perpetrators,” said Kai Wright, Colorlines editor-at-large in a press release. “Law enforcement should not be the arbiter of who’s a victim.”

And Illinois, home to the troubled South Side Chicago, is one of the least generous of VOCA’s aid. And that’s why Carla Murphy, partnering with Colorlines, focused her year-long examination in the heart of Chi-town.

According to Murphy, for a victim to apply for VOCA aid, one must apply at the attorney general’s office. But the problem is that judges rely heavily on police reports to determine whether or not a victim may receive compensation. In neighborhoods with tense police-community relations, it’s likely that these reports will be skewed.

“Typically the biggest problem that we have is that somewhere there is a police document that associates the victim with gang affiliation,” said Susan Johnson, executive director of Chicago’s Citizens for Change. “It can be that the crime is a gang-related crime, but the victim is an innocent victim. And we don’t see that disassociation made in the police write-ups. So then the victim of the crime gets tainted with that, and then the victim’s compensation will be denied.”

Dominique Harris, a Chicago resident whose heart escaped the impact of a bullet by just few inches last year, agreed. “Police don’t see us as innocent,” Harris says. “They see us as a gangbanger.”

Using the hashtag #LivesOfBlackMen, follow the discussion on Twitter with @Colorlines today, August 5th, at 1pm ET.

Despite Family’s Best Efforts To Keep Her Safe, 11-Year-Old Chicago Girl Shot And Killed At Sleepover

July 21st, 2014 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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Shamiya Adams, 11, was hanging out at a friend’s house in Chicago (East Garfield Park) on Friday night. The girls were having a sleepover and preparing to make s’mores when a stray bullet entered the home and struck the back of Adams’ head. She was rushed to the hospital, had surgery, and was connected to a breathing machine, but she died on Saturday. What makes this very sad situation all the more heartbreaking is the fact that Adams’ mother rarely let her daughter, or the child’s twin brother, hang out with friends outside because of ongoing gun violence. If they were going to be with friends, they had to stay indoors.

Adams’ great-grandmother, Lourene Miller, told the CBS affiliate in Chicago that the family was hoping that the girls would at least be safe indoors.

“My granddaughter (the girl’s mother, Shaneetha Goodloe) would cry every time she’d see a child killed on the news (and) Shamiya was never just out.

It is just terrible out here. These young guys out here are shooting and a lot of times they miss their target and they always hit somebody innocent.”

Adams reportedly had her friend over not too long ago for a sleepover, so she went to the friend’s home this time around on Friday night for some sleepover fun. That’s when the unthinkable happened.

Investigators believe that a person trying to fire at a rival gang member missed and their bullet went through the window of the friend’s home, hitting a wall and eventually hitting Adams in the back of her head.

Rosemarie Jones was hosting the sleepover for her daughter and tearfully speaking to the Fox affiliate, said “It was going to be a little sleepover.”

As the family mourns Adams’ death and calls for an end to the reckless gang violence plaguing the city ensue, police say that nobody has been arrested as of yet, but there is an $8,000 reward for information leading to her killer. Sadly, Adams was one of four people reportedly killed by gun violence in the city over the weekend, and 32 others were wounded.

What About Us?! Black Chicago Residents Slam Obama About Immigration Spending

July 14th, 2014 - By Kimberly Gedeon
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“You’re spending billions of dollars in Texas, but we’ve a problem here in Chicago,” an angry Windy City protester said. Black Chicago residents just can’t fathom why Obama would plan to spend a whopping $3.7 billion on illegal immigration, but ignore what they feel is a more pressing issue — senseless violence in “Chi-raq,” Washington Times reports.

Last week, MadameNoire reported Chicago’s deadly July 4th weekend: At least five dozen people were hit by gunfire. Fed up with the government’s inaction with Chi-town’s bloodshed, hundreds of South side residents took to the streets and rallied against Obama’s controversial illegal immigration proposal.

“For the president to set aside all of these funds for immigrants and [have] forsaken the African-American community, I think that’s a disgrace,” one Chicagoan told Rebel Pundit. “He will go down as the worst president ever elected. Bill Clinton was the African-American president.”

According to ABC News, there’s been an upsurge of illegal unaccompanied minors crossing the U.S. border from Mexico. To band-aid the crisis, Obama is asking for $3.7 billion. The plan will include funding for Border Control agents, care facilities for children while in custody, air surveillance, and more. But some residents believe Obama’s got his priorities warped:

“President Barack needs to pay attention to Chicago, if he can not pay attention to Chicago and the African-American community, he needs to resign,” a protester said.

The demonstration, which was held in front of the city’s police department headquarters, was prompted by the fatal shooting of Jasmine Curry, a pregnant woman of five. Curry’s father, Pierre, attended the event and said that less than a year ago, he was forced to bury his 17-year-old son. Once again, due to Chicago’s senseless violence, Pierre must mourn the loss of his daughter.

Jasmine is one of the 26 people killed in Chicago this July.

“I’d like to tell the young people out here, especially young African-Americans, I’d like to tell the world, Mr. President, congress, senate, aldermen, governor, the mayor–losing a child is something else, losing something that God gave to you, and some fool in the street took it, he didn’t have a right to take my son or my daughter from her five kids,” Curry said, according to Rebel Pundit.

Chicago residents aren’t the only ones bewildered by Obama’s illegal immigration request. African Americans from Houston to Baltimore say young Black Americans and unaccompanied, undocumented minors experience similar destructive environments. So why isn’t Obama addressing the Black community, too?

“My children cannot play outside,” a Black Baltimore resident told AllVoices. “Where can I get asylum? Where can I get refugee status? Nobody cares what happens to my children.”

“It’s not right. Now billions of dollars want to be borrowed from the White House to help feed and house them,” Lancelin said. “What about the (expletive) kids here?” a Houston resident asked.

Supporters behind Obama’s immigration funding believe that Americans have a moral, if not legal, obligation to care for these children who have come alone to our borders. And there’s the larger question of the need for comprehensive immigration policy, which might not directly impact the black community, but is critical nonetheless.

What do you think?

And for more about the gun violence in Chicago, watch the Moguldom Studios film “Gunland,” available here.

Chicago Teen Survives Being Shot In The Head, Uncle Credits Hair Weave

July 11th, 2014 - By Jazmine Denise Rogers
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Apparently sew-ins can come in handy for more than just vanity purposes. One Chicago teen was made aware of this after miraculously surviving a gun shot wound to the head. According to NBC Chicago, Chantal Hammontree, 18, was sitting in a car in Chicago’s East Chatham neighborhood when shots were fired into the back window.

“She was coming home, and when her girlfriend let her out of the car, the guy walked up and just shot her,” the teen’s uncle, Randy Berry, explained.

He went on to say that he believes that the shooting was connected to a prior gang-related shooting, in which another one of Chantal’s uncles was shot and paralyzed in earlier this year.

“There was the ‘East Side, West Side’ type of thing going on,” Berry continued.. “[The shooter] told her that because she was affiliated with him, they were going to shoot her also.”

Chantal was the only victim of the shooting and her friends immediately rushed her to University of Chicago Hospital, police say. She was later transferred to Mount Sinai Hospital and is reported to be in critical condition.

“[Doctors] assumed that when the bullet kind of went in, it bounced out because she had the weave in her hair,” Randy added. “She got a few fragments in there. She didn’t lose consciousness. She’s still woke. She’s still coherent. She still knows everybody and everything. So they just waiting now, they did the tests and everything, so far it’s looking good.”

“Nobody gets shot in the head and still awake and still talking and everything so, that was a miracle all by itself.”

We’re wishing Chantal a speedy recovery.

Follow Jazmine on Twitter @JazmineDenise