Last year during the Netroots convention in Providence, Rhode Island, activist, comedian radio host Elon James White had grown weary of the Stop and Frisk practice that was being disproportionately being applied by NYPD to Black and Brown folks in New York City. He was acutely aware of it in his Brooklyn neighborhood which has been undergoing a lot of gentrification and noted that his Bed-Stuy neighborhood was suddenly playing host to swarms of police who were never present when he was growing up, but suddenly seemed to be there to ‘protect and serve’ the new more affluent residents who were moving in..
Elon decided to put his activism to work by doing more than speaking out and raising awareness via his radio show. He teamed up with Pittsburgh rapper/ activist Jasiri X who was growing weary of similar practices in his Pittsburgh neighborhood which had resulted in some high-profile cases of innocent people being severely beaten by police. One such case was that of Jordan Miles, an honor student and master violinist who performed for the First Lady Michele Obama.
The 3 undercover cops dubbed the Jump Out Boys spotted Miles en route to his grandmother’s house. They saw Miles jumped out and demanded to know where his drugs and money was at. Fearing he was about to be robbed, because the cops never identified themselves, he ran.. The cops all martial arts experts, tackled him and beat him so bad that his mother didn’t recognize him. His flowing dreadlocks were pulled out on the left side of his head and Miles was left traumatized. In spite large protests and rallies, the cops were let off the hook with the police chief telling Jordan he should never run from police. The family is suing the department.
Incidents like these helped inform Jasiri X who was tapped by Elon to do a remake of a popular song done by the late Notorious BIG called 10 Crack Commandments. Elon wanted to see a song called the 10 Frisk Commandments. The purpose was to both raise awareness as well as give solid instructions to folks as to what to do if they encountered police during Stop-N-Frisk. The end result was this masterpiece of a song shown with a compelling video that Elon shot which is featured below..
In recent weeks Stop and Frisk has been in the headlines with the recent shooting death of Brooklyn resident Kamani Gray which touched off 3 days of unrest. Gray was accused of running when plain clothes approached him to stop and Frisk. Police say Gray had a gun. Witnesses say he did not.. The shooting brought Stop and Frisk to the forefront of conversation.. Not too long after New York City acknowledged it had stopped over 5 million people with over 90% of them being Black or Brown with less than 10% found to be in violation of any law..
Stop and Frisk also wound up being put on trial where it was discovered through a number of police officers testifying that they had been ordered to meet quotas and to target particular types of people. This outraged Black and Brown New Yorkers.. Instead of trying to reduce tensions and make corrections.. NYPD Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly doubled down and said that Black people commit 70% of crimes and thus they need to be stopped and frisked even more. The judge presiding over the trial expressed grave concerns about the practice and the fact that so many innocent people have been stopped some with fatal consequence.
The case of Ramarley Graham of the Bronx is one glaring example. The cops responsible for killing an unarmed Graham who did not run and was shot and killed in front of mother and his 6 year old brother were just let off..
With all this swirling around Elon decided to involves scores of people from around the country to do a remix of the 10 Frisk Commandments. We sat down with Elon and he explained that this is not just a New York problem. It takes on different names in other parts of the country including ‘Driving While Black‘, ‘Walking while Black‘ etc.. he felt it was important to connect the dots and look at some of the underlying causes behind this practice.. During our Hard Knock Radio interview, Elon talked at length about gentrification and what that has meant for Black and Brown Brooklyn residents like himself. He also gives a full break down of what went into the remix of 10 Frisk Commandments
You can listen to the full interview here