Straight Outta Utah: The Origins & Evolution of the Hip Hop Police

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Many have been led to believe that the survelience of rap artists by police started in New York the birthplace of Hip Hop. Ground zero is actually in Utah with a black officer who once infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan. This is an incredible story that will blow you away…

by Davey D

ronstallworth-captionMany people have long believed the first Hip Hop cop came out of New York City and recently arrived on the scene sometime after 9-11. Much of this is centered on Hip Hop’s infamous Hip Hop Task Force which was led by former NYPD detective Derek Parker. He and that task force has been the subject of several high profile news stories, a documentary and a book he authored.

The truth of the matter is that Hip Hop’s first cop is a gentleman by the name of Ron Stallworth who comes out of Utah. He’s the author of 4 books dealing with the topic of gangster rap including; 1)Gangster Rap: Music, Culture & Politics, 2)Significant Developments in Gangster Rap Music Since the Rodney King Uprising, 3)Bringin’ The Noise—Gangster Rap/Reality Rap in the Dynamics of Black Revolution, and 4)Real Niggas: Gang Bangin’ To The Gangsta Boogie in AmeriKKKa.

If that’s not enough Stallworth has testified before Congress and the Senate Judiciary Committee where he submitted some very compelling papers. Stallworth books were written when gangsta rap first started to come out of Los Angeles in the early 90s and continued to be updated to the day he retired two years ago. His books are department issued, self-publications which have been read widely by his fellow officers. They are extremely thorough, very detailed and have a keen political analysis that would actually shock most people outside of law enforcement because of some of the positions and conclusions Stallworth takes. In addition to breaking down the lyrics, street culture and gang connections behind the songs and groups Stallworth and is Utah based unit (Department of Public Safety) kept tabs on, his books gave prophetic warnings as to what would likely happen if certain police suppression based policies and practices weren’t changed or completely eradicated.
Stallworth felt that it was important his fellow officers had a clear understanding of the socio-economic and political conditions that gave rise to some of the material put out by so called gangsta rappers and Afro-centric socially conscious rappers. He let his fellow officers know why some of the rap songs being put out advocated for harm and outright killing of police.

KKK leader David Duke

In a recent interview Stallworth noted that some of his analyses did not always fit well with his brethren, but he vowed to remain objective and speak the truth. In pt1 of this 3 part interview we talked with Sergeant Stallworth about his unique background in Law Enforcement. His biggest claim to fame is how he as a brown skinned African man managed to infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan in Colorado and even be offered the position of Klan chapter leader. His Klan membership card was issued by to him personally by KKK leader David Duke.(that is shown in the picture above). His incredible police work led to the eventual dismissal of Klan members who had joined the United States Army with a couple of members actually working at NORAD. (North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). This is a crazy story that in many ways eclipses his work in Hip Hop and will keep you riveted on the edge of your seat as Stallworth provides the blow by blow details. In parts 2 and 3 we talk about Stallworth work in Hip Hop.

Listen to pt 1 of  3 of this Breakdown FM Interview

http://www.swift.fm/mrdaveyd/song/72749/

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For the purpose of having background information here’s the story of Stallworth stint with the Ku Klux Klan

Black sergeant was ‘loyal Klansman’
By Deborah Bulkeley

About 25 years ago, Ron Stallworth was asked to lead the Ku Klux Klan chapter in Colorado Springs

Problem was, the outgoing Klan leader didn’t know that Stallworth is black.

“He asked me to take over the lead because I was a good, loyal Klansman,” said Stallworth, who had been in constant phone contact with the Klan leader while leading a yearlong Colorado Springs police investigation into the Klan.

Stallworth later moved to Utah, where he recently retired after nearly 20 years as an investigator for the Utah Department of Public Safety. He says he’s amazed that no one ever caught on to the investigation he led starting in 1979. After he was offered Klan leadership, he quietly disappeared.

As a memento Stallworth still carries his Klan membership card” signed by David Duke.

“It was one of the most fun” investigations, he said. “Everybody said it couldn’t be done.”
Stallworth communicated with Klan leaders using the telephone. A white officer posing as Stallworth went to the meetings.

“The challenge for me was to maintain the conversation flow,” Stallworth said. At the same time, Stallworth also led an undercover investigation into the Progressive Labor Party, a communist group that protested at Klan rallies.

Stallworth, of Layton, worked 30 years in law enforcement in four states. Stallworth’s undercover experience and research led him to become a nationally known expert on gang culture. He calls the Klan investigation “one of the most significant investigations I was ever involved in because of the scope and the magnitude of how it unfolded.”

The investigation revealed that Klan members were in the military, including two at NORAD who controlled the triggers for nuclear weapons.

“I was told they were being reassigned to somewhere like the North Pole or Greenland,” Stallworth said.
The Klan investigation isn’t the only time Stallworth has been mistaken for a white guy.

He’s been contacted by academics about his “scholarly research” on gangs. One such academic “said he was so impressed that a white Mormon in Utah could write such an impressive work on black gang culture.”

Stallworth said he laughed and explained that not only is he not white or Mormon, he started his college career in 1971 and remains about 2 1/2 years shy of his bachelor’s degree.

Stallworth started to work on gang activity for the Utah Department of Public Safety in the late 1980s. He wrote a report that led to the formation of Utah’s first gang task force — the Gang Narcotics Intelligence Unit that involved the Utah Division of Investigation and the Salt Lake City Police Department.

“Based on what was going on at the time, I knew about the L.A. gang problem,” he said. Utah gang suspects were “telling us they were Crips from California.”

Stallworth said of his work in Utah, it’s his investigation of gangs that he’s most proud of.
“It’s had a lasting impact, first and foremost, on law enforcement,” he said.

Wes McBride, president of the California Gang Investigators Association and retired from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, said about 15 years ago he “heard about this guy in Salt Lake who was becoming an expert” in gangsta rap music. So, he invited Stallworth to speak on the topic. It was the first of a series of lectures Stallworth gave on street-gang culture.

“I don’t know that any of us ever listened to it,” McBride said. “Where he was instrumental with us was pointing out to listen to the words, to listen to what these gangsters were saying.”

The two both testified in a 1993 homicide in which a Texas state trooper was killed by a 19-year-old gang member, McBride said. Stallworth was the expert witness on the connection between gangsta rap and gang culture in the case, McBride recalled.

Leticia Medina, executive director of Utah Issues, said she started working with Stallworth on gangs in the late 1980s, when the first Metro Gang Unit was under development. She was a youth corrections provider at the time.

“He was very interested in what my perspectives were,” she said. “I learned from him as much as I hope he learned from me.

“Law enforcement is not something that I grew up trusting. I had an opportunity to deal with a cop and see his world,” she said.

At the time, Medina said, law enforcement wasn’t involved in the community.

“They started the Metro Gang Unit, and everyone knew who the gang unit was,” she said. “One key that Ron worked on was getting to know the community and community leaders. . . . Law enforcement needed to be trained in cultural competence and gang culture.”

Stallworth has self-published four books on gang culture and has testified before Congress on gangs and violence. He also served as the state’s first gang-intelligence coordinator.

In 1994, he was selected by the U.S. Justice Department’s National Drug Intelligence centre to participate in a national street-gang symposium, the results of which were presented to the U.S. attorney general.
Now that he’s retired, Stallworth plans to remain active, politically and otherwise.

Stallworth is chairman of the Black Advisory Council and serves on Layton’s Parks and Recreation Commission and Planning Commission. He also was one of several applicants for a vacant City Council seat in Layton. Stallworth didn’t get the seat but says he plans to run for City Council.

He coaches a youth track team for 9-to-14-year-old boys and girls, and would like to volunteer for the Huntsman Cancer centre, which cared for his wife, Micki, before her death.

Stallworth is also going back to school. He wants to complete a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice administration at Columbia College.

Medina said she wouldn’t be surprised if Stallworth continues to speak up on issues close to him.
“Now that he’s retired, watch out,” Medina said. “He is very committed to all these communities. He is also very committed to the career he chose as a law-enforcement officer. . . . People need to take the time to really listen to him.”

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The Hip Hop Police-pt2 (Orgins & Evolution)

We continue our conversation with Sergeant Ron Stallworth who pioneered the whole Hip Hop police thing. In this podcast we speak to Ron about how and why he got involved with Hip Hop. He explained that he had no intention to become any sort of expert or to keep tabs on rappers. He’s an old school type of cat who was working in Utah department of Public Safety. One of the things this department was charged with doing was engaging the youth gangs. In the late 80s and early 90s Stallworth noted that many of the white Mormon kids started to associate themselves with Crip and Blood culture out of South Central LA and Compton and thus formed gangs. This sort of attachment puzzled Stallworth who eventually made trips to Los Angeles and teamed up with gang task force leaders to see first hand how gangs were operating and how and why they had such a hold on white kids in Utah. He eventually discovered that gangster rap via groups like NWA is how these white Mormon kids were getting their leads and cues. They were fascinated with what they concluded was ‘black culture’.

Out of necessity Stallworth had to become an expert in this new subgenre of Hip Hop. The rest they say is history. Stallworth felt it was important to truly understand the culture. He then began to see how police misconduct had fueled a lot of the rage being expressed in the songs. This led to Stallworth writing a ten page paper which contained his conclusions and observations became the basis for his first book.

In this interview Stallworth breaks down the methods he used to gather intel. He said it was all about connecting the dots and that ironically many of the rappers themselves through their lyrics and album covers which showed graffiti, street signs and other key indicators that provided all the information he and other law enforcement officials needed to paint a picture. He talks about how the biggest challenge he faced was explaining to other officers the perspective of the rappers and how and why law enforcement needed to change some of their approaches. He wanted the police to study the artists, and find common ground which he felt could lead to better relationships in the community.

He admitted that many officers were invested in maintaining a negative outlook and too often over-reacted to situations that could best be diffused with better understanding. In our interview Stallworth referenced a situation in Detroit involving NWA where plain clothes officers rushed the stage after the group attempted to perform the song ‘Fuck tha Police’. In order for Stallworth to maintain what he saw as an objective outlook he would write the books that was issued to the department on his own time and publish them with his own money and resources.

During our interview we discussed the history of surveillance in the Black community in particular Cointel-Pro. Stallworth explained in great detail how and why what he was doing was not the same as J Edgar Hoover who started the program in the late 60s.

First and foremost he felt Hoover crossed the line and violated the constitution. In fact he noted that Hoover needed to be jailed. With respect to his operation, he basically listened to the material put out by the artists and then cross referenced what they said with police resources. In other words if a rapper said he was down with gang, then Stallworth would check that out and see if it was true or not. If an artist took a picture of a street sign and put it on his album cover, he would check it out and see what the deeper significance behind it. In short many rappers were telling on themselves.

Listen to pt 2 of this Breakdown FM Interview

http://www.swift.fm/mrdaveyd/song/72750/

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The Hip Hop Police-pt3 (Orgins & Evolution)

“We conclude our three part conversation with retired Sergeant Ron Stallworth the original Hip Hop cop. Here we talk about the 4 books he’s written on Hip Hop Culture and Gangsta Rap. We pay particular attention to the book he wrote on Hip Hop activism. He spoke about the things he saw and heard within Hip Hop that predicted what would eventually take place during the Rodney King rebellion in 1992.

Stallworth noted that today rap music has been neutralized and has lost a lot of its urgent message. He says today kids are all about making money and that’s clearly reflected in many of the songs that are commercially viable. Says we live in a time when people want to escape poverty. We spoke about the Stop Snitching Movement. He personally finds it disgraceful; however he understands the sentiments behind it.

He says people in the community are getting the wrong message when they are being asked to tell while Congressmen remain silent when they are asked to speak out. We talked about studio gangsters. Stallworth said there are a number of rappers who say lots of things in records that don’t add up when he checked them out. He cited Snoop Dogg and Ice T as glaring examples. He also talked about the 2Pac case and Suge Knight. He said if he was running the investigation into Pac’s killing he would start with Suge. He then talked about the Death Row organization and it being a unique in the sense that it was represented by both Bloods and Crips. Lastly we talked about the music industry and the role that street gangs played and how they are perceived by law enforcement versus traditional organized crime like the Mafia. We talked about how and why the street gangs came under surveillance and why we don’t hear as much about the mob.

Listen to pt 3 of this Breakdown FM Interview

http://www.swift.fm/mrdaveyd/song/72751/

Comments

  1. anonymous white boy says:

    Does anyone notice how he gets quiet and starts stuttering when asked about Pac and Biggie’s death? Throughout the interview, he’s comfortable and speaking clearly. Then, he starts talking about Biggie’s murder, and LAPD consulting him for leads and whatever, and suddenly he’s breaking up, quieter, longer pauses between sentences….He knows something that the public doesn’t know yet, that’s for sure.

    part 3, right about 25:20

  2. Robert Jr. James McClendon says:

    Seems like he wanted to be more of a journalist or author than a person interested in helping our people. I didn’t get, from what I read, a person really trying to help, but a person more-so trying to break that big story. No real sincereity towards the people, just titles and recognition. Rather listen to “The Lifer’s Group” than read jokers like that for the “Real Deal”.

  3. Thanks for this, Great post.

  4. Peace Davey,

    Great journalism here. I am editor in chief of Words. Beats. & Life. based in DC. Could you please tell me where I could find copies of Stallworth’s work?

    Let’s build on other fronts too.

    Peace.

  5. FormerAtRisk says:

    I have dealt with Stallworth as a former at-risk youth in the late 80’s early 90’s, and that Klan offer suits him well. Truthfully, he reminds me of the black cop on Boyz N Tha Hood.