Is Hip Hop To Blame?
by Davey D
Hip Hop suffered a black eye the week before last after an Usher concert in Concord, Ca. Newspaper headlines screamed 'Man Shot and Killed After Rap Concert' 'Melee Ensues After Rap Concert on Highway 24'. According to police reports what happened was after the concert ended about a 100 people bumrushed a local gas station store and began looting. During the confusion some idiot pulled a gun and shot and killed an innocent bystander. The family of the victim accused the police of standing around and not doing anything to protect people caught in the crossfire.
Later on a group of people decided to stop traffic in the middle of a major freeway 'Highway 24' and kicked off a 'Sideshow'. This is where cars start doing doughnuts and other tricks. Traffic was backup for miles as cats turned the freeway into a parking lot.
Needless to say this pissed off elected officials all the way to the governor's office. This latest mishap will no doubt speed up the process and be the crucial ammunition to pass new 'Anti-side show' legislation that has been proposed by Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown and pushed by State Senator Don Perata. It's SB 1489. If memory serves me correctly this new bill will evoke harsh penalties for sideshow observers and participants. It will give the police sweeping powers to arrest and take away your car if you are suspected of being part of a sideshow. When it was initially there were many who thought such legislation was going to far because it the car would be impounded no matter what, but after Saturday's freeway fiasco there may be a change of heart.
As usual there were many who wanted to immediately blame the music. There were some who wanted to somehow see if Nas or Usher have any sort of inciderary lyrics that may have inspired a group of a people to act a fool and cause all this drama. Was it really Hip Hop?
I got a few calls from local media outlets that wanted a quote or an opinion as to what happened. I made sure to remind them that while Saturday's events were tragic we should no way start calling for a ban to Hip Hop. To do so would overshadow all the hard work people had put forth for Hip Hop Appreciation Week. It would overshadow and lend an unfair perception on the 6 other separate Hip Hop events that took place that day without a problem. Almost all of them were sold out.
Second, I point out the fact that in recent weeks there have been full scale riots and looting after basketball championships i.e. University Maryland, Los Angeles Lakers. There was craziness after a Mardis Gras celebration in San Jose. There was madness after a Shark's hockey game. I also noted that after every Big Game between Cal and Stanford's football teams there are fights and people running around tearing up stuff. I've seen women trampled. Old men knocked out by zealous fans. I've seen stores looted. I've seen reckless drunken driving after the games. I've seen cats drag racing in street.
Unfortunately, when it comes to those aforementioned activities some like to offer a different perception. You never hear anyone call to ban the Big Game between Cal and Stanford or NCAA finals. There are many who see all these white collegiate faces and write it off as 'boys being boys' or 'those nutty college kids have done it again'. No legislator is rushing off trying to pass bills to penalize Cal and Stanford rioters. Very few newspapers or talk show commentators are on air lambasting them to the degree they will Black and Brown folks after concert violence.
There's a long list that can be cited that illustrates all the drama that takes place during and after large events. From rock concerts like Woodstock where six women got raped to soccer matches where people are frequently killed and trampled to death. This is not to say that one should not be responsible and that those who act ill shouldn't be punished. However, we have to be honest and note that the real problem is when large crowds gather and there is some sort of amped up activity people more often then not act nuts. I believe the term is called copy cat aggression.
What I didn't want to see happen is this mental separation that some like to have when it comes to similar activities. We can't separate violence after a rap concert from violence after a championship football or basketball game. We can't call one 'gang violence' and the other one 'rival fans expressing aggression'. We can't call one activity drag racing and highlight it in a movie and build entire industries around it and call another a sideshow and act like the two aren't the same.
It sometimes appears that those who are quick to blast rap concert violence, believe that if that was eliminated from our mists then all the other disruptions that take place will also go away. If you ask me it may be the other way around. If I'm 15 years old watching grown ass men rioting after a championship basketball game or Ivy League students 'tearing up shit' after a Big Game and no one is taxing them for it, what sort of message do you think I'm getting? If the crowd is big enough I can act a fool and get away with it because no one is really tripping. In fact in some cases the people yelling loudest about violence after a rap concert have acted a fool themselves after a sporting event. Let's not get all this twisted.
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