Society

Rap Music as Conspiracy to Murder?

| by Rhianna Kreger

Prosecutors in San Diego have charged rapper Tiny Doo with conspiracy to commit a felony, in relation to a string of murders that took place in a neighborhood associated with the notorious Lincoln Park Bloods gang.

The rapper, also known as Brandon T. Duncan, was neither present at the shootings nor do prosecutors contend that he even knew about them. Instead, citing California’s “Gang Violence and Juvenile Crime Prevention Act,” they claim that Duncan “actively participates in [a] criminal street gang” and that his rap music “willfully promotes, furthers, assists, or benefits from [the] felonious criminal conduct” by other members of that gang.

As evidence, they point to Duncan’s newest rap album, “No Safety,” which features a cover depicting a loaded handgun and contains lyrics, like nearly all other albums in the so-called “gangsta rap” genre, replete with profanities and other raw details of street life. Prosecutors will also be citing photos on his Facebook page depicting him with gang members.

Duncan’s lawyers say such photos are neither criminal nor surprising, given that Duncan grew up in a neighborhood dominated by the Lincoln Park Bloods. Duncan’s lack of a criminal record—with the exception of pimping charges that were ultimately dropped—also undermine the prosecution’s claim that Duncan “actively participates” in criminal gang activity.

The California law, known colloquially as Proposition 21, was passed in 2000, an “off-election” year that normally indicates conservative leanings. It remains highly controversial, not only because of the element relevant to the Duncan case—which the Washington Times claims has never been utilized before Duncan—but also because it allows prosecutors to treat juveniles as adults, and is being applied with “egregious racial disparities,” according to the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice.

As for Duncan, his lawyers say his case is akin to charging Al Pacino for crimes committed by drug runners. After his December 4 arraignment, they will be filing a motion asking the judge to throw it out.

Sources: BuzzFeed, LA Times, Washington Times, Huffington Post, CJCJ \ Image source: YouTube