Protect Black Art
Georgia is one of the numerous states that have attempted to diminish the active gang activity in its communities by using the Racketeer Influenced & Corrupt Organizations (RICO) act. This act was originally created in 1970 to target the Mafia and has since been used to go after various groups and individuals such as the Atlanta street gang, Young Slime Life. Recently, Georgia targeted Jeffery Williams, also famously known as Young Thug and Sergio Kitchens, known as Gunna with multiple charges of various crimes and affiliation with the Bloods. The Fulton County prosecutors released a 56-count indictment against the two rappers who are believed to be part of the criminal activity of the YSL gang. These charges consist of conspiracy of the RICO act, murder, armed robbery, and participation in criminal activity. Both rappers were arrested and denied bond and will remain at Fulton County Jail until trial, which is January 2023. This shocking news has left the world in a frenzy as we watch our favorite rappers fight for their freedom against huge allegations.
On May 9th, the ordeal began when Young Thug was seen in handcuffs outside of his Buckhead home after the police raided the residence. Later on May 11th, Gunna turned himself into Fulton County authorities. The Fulton County prosecutors believe YSL is a street gang; meanwhile, their attorneys and family are arguing that Young Slime Life has strictly involvement in the music industry only. They believe Young Thug can face up to life in jail if proven guilty of numerous counts of criminal activity. There have been more arrests of defendants who are allegedly involved in YSL and can be facing up to life as well. What’s unfair is their song lyrics can be used against them in court, in the decision of their charges. This should be a violation of the First Amendment which states “Congress shall make no law [abridging the freedom of speech]”; however, the D.A notes free speech doesn’t protect someone from having their own words/lyrics used against them as evidence in a criminal proceeding. This can be detrimental to Young Thug and Gunna’s case because most of their lyrics are violent and can be easily misconstrued.
Young Thug is completely against this as he shared a heartfelt message with his fans at the Hot 97’s Summer Jam on June 12th. He thanked his fans for the huge support and also, directed them to sign a petition called, Protect Black Art which calls for legislation at federal and state levels to limit the use of art as evidence in criminal trials. This petition was launched by Kevin Liles. He believes all artists use their music as a form of artistic expression and is unfair for their art to be used against them. In many courtrooms in America, black creativity is being criminalized. These punishments have marginalized certain communities and forced artists to silence their stories about their struggles & survival. There are about 51,000 signatures as of right now to fight against this injustice. The “Protect Black Art” petition has gained numerous supporters and even the New York Senate approved the Rap Music on Trial Bill in May. This bill aims to limit the use of song lyrics as evidence. Many well-respected artists & fans continue to raise awareness to help artists who are currently fighting for their freedom and who have already been proven guilty.