As protestors took to the streets in Ferguson, Missouri, after a grand jury revealed they would not pursue charges against police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown, many artists reacted to the news via Twitter, and some musicians took part in the protests.
Rapper Killer Mike, who was scheduled to perform with Run the Jewels in St. Louis last night, was especially critical of the grand jury decision. “I am so fucking angry…,” the rapper tweeted before unloading a series of messages that condemned both the media’s handling of the riots in Ferguson as well as the police tactics.
“I have seen many times a suspect run get tired and turn around to Surrender. I am not convinced,” Killer Mike wrote. “The Crowd is attacking ‘Police Cars’. It’s the system the[y] hate! Officers they cud [sic] be attacking YOU but they are not. #Think #DontShoot.”
Despite the riots in Missouri – the St. Louis airport issued a travel warning and Tuesday’s St. Louis Blues home game might be postponed – Run the Jewels still performed at the city’s Ready Room, with Killer Mike delivering an emotional seven-minute speech regarding the situation to the crowd. “You kicked me on my ass today, because I have a 20-year-old son and a 12-year-old son, and I’m so afraid for them today,” said the rapper.
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“I’m heartbroken over the news of no indictment in Ferguson. Let’s all pray for peace,” Pharrell Williams tweeted. In September, when protestors first began filling the streets of Ferguson, Williams told CNN, “This is a deeper laceration in this country. This is going to be the longest hangover in race relations ever.” The producer added that President Barack Obama “needs to come down” to Ferguson, Missouri.
Pharrell also criticized the role of the media in the days after the Brown shooting. “I was disappointed that while we had so much peaceful protesting going on, what the media chose to cover most of all and highlight was the random few people that threw Molotov cocktails. The random people that had guns on them,” Williams told CNN’s Don Lemon. “This is the age of sound-biting.” That lingering ill feeling toward the media was amplified following the grand jury decision as rioters actively looked to disrupt newscasts on the scene.
The protesting wasn’t exclusive to Ferguson, as many gathered in cities across the U.S. to join the uproar following the grand jury decision. In New York, rapper Q-Tip led a chant of “Whose streets? Our streets.” In Seattle, Macklemore took part in a similar protest that eventually turned violent and forced the local highway to shut down. “Solidarity,” the rapper said. “It’s not about me. It’s about Mike Brown.”
Guitarist Tom Morello, who previously released his song “Marching on Ferguson” in support of the protestors there, tweeted, “Baseball, apple pie, decisions like this. #Merica” following the grand jury ruling. “Hey #Ferguson: take it easy. BUT TAKE IT. #MichaelBrown #FergusonDecision #fuckthosefuckinfuckers,” he added. Lauryn Hill (“Black Rage”) and J. Cole (“Be Free”) had also recorded songs inspired by the events taking place in Ferguson.