With the anniversary of the shooting death of Michael Brown approaching on August 9th, Run the Jewels opened up about Ferguson, Missouri in a new interview. Introducing themselves as “your fantasy utopian representation of race relations in the world,” El-P and Killer Mike tell the BBC about their experience performing near St. Louis when the Ferguson riots broke out and whether those riots instilled change in the community.
“Riots work. And I’ve never said it in that way before. But I’m an American because of that riot,” Killer Mike says, citing the Boston Tea Party. “So when people say riots don’t work: Ferguson was over 60 percent as a black community. They had less than 60 percent representation in politics, far less. Post-riots, they have two new black city council members, they have actual advocates in the community now, and the police chief retired. So if it was argued that riots worked for Ferguson, absolutely they did.”
After prosecutors revealed last November that police officer Darren Wilson would not be charged in Brown’s death, riots broke out throughout Ferguson. While a St. Louis Blues game scheduled for that night was canceled due to the protests, Run the Jewels still performed their concert at St. Louis’ Ready Room, with Killer Mike delivering an emotional seven-minute speech regarding the Brown shooting. “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,” Killer Mike told the audience.
“We had the weird, tragic and serendipitous experience of being the only band when the verdict was coming down in St. Louis to be attempting to get into St. Louis. Everybody else was driving as fast as they can out of St. Louis, “El-P told the BBC (via Pitchfork). “Every word you’re saying all of a sudden means a hundred times more than it meant the night before,” El-P said. “And to see my friend talk, I was crying onstage. It was very powerful.”
In August 2014, just days after Brown was killed, Killer Mike took to Instagram to convey his thoughts on the incident. “Don’t debate. Don’t insert your agenda,” he wrote. “Save me the bullshit Black On Black Crime speech and look at these [two] Noble creatures called humans and look at what [government]-sanctioned murder has done.”