Run the Jewels’ Killer Mike made a surprise appearance at Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottom’s press conference on Friday (May 29), in an attempt to quell some of the violence that has taken place during nationwide protests of George Floyd’s police-related death last week.
Mike (born Michael Render) appealed to those angry about the incident, asking them to channel their anger into positive movements.
“I am the son of an Atlanta police officer,” said Mike, who was flanked by the Mayor, Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields and fellow ATL rapper T.I. at the press conference.
“My cousin is an Atlanta police officer. And my other cousin an East Point police officer. “And I got a lot of love and respect for police officers, down to the original eight police officers in Atlanta,” he added in a reference to the city’s first black officers, who were hired in 1948.
“I watched a white police officer assassinate a black man,” the outspoken rapper/activist said, fighting back tears. “And I know that tore your heart out. And I know it’s crippling, and I have nothing positive to say in this moment, because I don’t want to be here.”
But, he said, wiping his eyes, it wasn’t just Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and others who marched and protested to help bring progress to Atlanta and other cities. It was also the rapper’s grandmother, his aunts and uncles and a number of many civil right leaders who did their part to bring about change.
“So I am duty-bound to be here to simply say that it is your duty not to burn your own house down for anger with an enemy,” he said. “It is your duty to fortify your own house so that you may be a house of refuge in times of organization. And now is the time to plot, plan, strategize, organize and mobilize.”
Mike’s comments came before another night of protests, which have spread across the nation from Los Angeles to New York, San Jose, Atlanta, Washington, D.C., Portland, Dallas, Detroit, Oakland and Louisville and many other cities. Citizens knelt, put their hands up, shouted “I Can’t Breathe” and otherwise voiced their anger at the death of unarmed black man Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officer, who was seen on video kneeling on Floyd’s neck for eight minutes.
That officer has been charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter in the incident. And though some of the protests over Floyd’s death have resulted in property damage, looting and traffic disruption, many others have been peaceful.
“It is time to beat up prosecutors you don’t like at the voting booth,” added Mike, encouraging citizens to use the power of the vote in November to usher in change. “It is time to hold mayoral offices accountable, chiefs and deputies… I’m mad as hell. I woke up wanting to see the world burn yesterday, because I’m tired of seeing black men die. He casually put his knee on a human being’s neck for nine minutes as he died like a zebra in the clutch of a lion’s jaw. And we watch it like murder porn, over and over again. So that’s why children are burning to the ground, they don’t know what else to do.”
The bottom line for Mike is that he wants to see the “system that sets up for systemic racism burned to the ground,” not Target stores. He wants to see the four officers involved in Floyd’s death all prosecuted for their actions.
“Will we use this as a moment to say that we will not do what other cities have done and in fact we will get better than we’ve been?” Mike asked, again urging the people of his city stay home and organize, to fill out their census forms and to vote out those who are in opposition to their views in November. “We have to be better than burning down our own homes.”
The rapper joined a growing chorus of artists who are speaking out about Floyd’s death and Pres. Trump’s militiristic response to the protests and unrest, including LL Cool J, who dropped a searing rhyme about the incident and Jay-Z, who called for justice in Floyd’s case as a “first step” in healing the nation and John Legend, who urged protesters to stay safe amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
On Saturday, Pres. Trump tweeted a warning that if protesters outside the White House breached the building’s fence, they would “have been greeted with the most vicious dog, and the most ominous weapons, I have ever seen,” an incendiary statement that some likened to the indelible images of police dogs sicced on civil rights protesters in the 1960s. Trump also specifically targeted states with Democratic leadership, saying that they have to “get MUCH tougher” on the protests or else the federal government will “step in and do what has to be done, and that includes using the unlimited power of our Military and many arrests.
Watch Killer Mike’s speech below.