Police are claiming Ceebo’s protest video is a threat to the LAPD

August 24, 2014 | 11:45 p.m.

Rapper Ceebo, family and friends of Ezell Ford, who was slain by the LAPD.

Rapper Ceebo, family and friends of Ezell Ford, who was slain by the LAPD.

LOS ANGELES – In the wake of the officer involved shooting on 65th and Broadway, where Ezell Ford, 25, was shot and killed by two LAPD Officers out of the Newton Division as he was walking down the street, community protests have be energetic and forceful for several days after the shooting.

National media attention has all eyes on Ferguson, Missouri where police officer Darren Wilson shot and killed teenager Michael Brown on August 9, first firing on him while he was inside his patrol vehicle, then shooting him several more times after he exited.

Two days later, LAPD officers jumped out on Ford, a mentally challenged young man, to make a pedestrian stop for reasons unknown that quickly turned into a physical altercation. According to one witness who is featured in the beginning of Ceebo’s rap video, the two officers jumped out their vehicle and immediately engaged Ford in a physical confrontation that rapidly escalated to both officers shooting Ford, three times killing him.

While Ford was walking, he was holding his pants up by using both hands in front him. The LAPD officers where driving in the same direction as Ford was walking but on the opposite side to the street. The officers were coming up from the rear and could not see that Ford’s two hands where being used to hold his pants while he was walking. According to the LAPD, Ford “made suspicious movements,” including attempting to conceal his hands. From witness accounts that was the way Ford was walking.

Because Ford suffers from mental illness, he did not verbally respond to the officers and they proceeded to jump out on him. According to the family and witnesses, the LAPD officers that patrol this community know about Ford’s mental illness. According to the LAPD, Ford attempted to grab one of the officers, then ended up on the ground, and attempted to reach for the officer’s gun. This version greatly contradicts witness accounts that stated Ford was immediately tackled. A witness also stated that Ford had an incident the day before with an officer where he laughed when one of the officers accidentally dropped the magazine of his gun. The officer responded to Ford with a threat and he was killed the next day.

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Ford’s cousin, Ceebo, a rap artist from the same community, recorded a protest song to express his frustration with the way the LAPD has been handling the investigation. The City has not released the results of the autopsy report, the names of the officers involved, they treated Ford’s mother with disdain and the police swarmed their community during several peaceful protests. In the same tradition of other rap groups and artists such as N.W.A. (1988), Ice-T (1992), KRS-1 (1993), and Dead Pres (2002), Ceebo recorded Fuck The Police, and published it on August 15. Although hip-hop artists have put a spot light on police brutality and corruption through their music over the years, by mostly black artists, the anti-police protest song crosses musical genres and racial lines.

The Clash recorded Guns of Brixton (1979) a reggae-inspired rant against the police’s militaristic tactics against black citizens in South London. “When they kick out your front door / how you gonna come? / With your hand on your head / or on the trigger of your gun?” Punk artist, Black Flag (1981) recorded Police Story, after being consistently harassed by the LAPD. Lead singer Henry Rollins wrote this song saying: “This fucking city is run by pigs / They take the rights away from all the kids / Understand we’re fighting a war we can’t win / They hate us, we hate them…” Rage Against the Machine recorded Killing In the Name (1993), an anti- police song that discusses crooked cops who have racist motivations and allegiances to the Ku Klux Klan and Bruce Springsteen’s 2001 American Skin (41 Shots) was about the murder of unarmed Bronx, New York immigrant Amadou Diallo which was criticized by the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association who called for a boycott of his concerts.

Ceebo’s 2014 offering is now the focus of the LAPD and the local media is making this a story by bringing more attention to the video and the lyrics than to the investigation into the shooting. For example, Mary Beth McDade from KTLA 5 published an article and interview entitled, “Video calls for revenge for Ezell Ford shooting” and quoted Ceebo’s lyrics, “the PD is the enemy” and “KKK in the flesh” in an attempt to create sensational news reporting on a non-story, which we have seen several times when artists create music with controversial lyrics.

McDade obviously has no knowledge of what a protest song represents or what anti-police songs mean. To call the music video “disturbing” and to not recognize the unique artistic expression is an attempt to undermine the anti-police message of police brutality and excessive force. Is McDade calling the video “disturbing” because it shows several blacks grouped together extremely upset about the killing of their friend, Ezell Ford?

McDade continues, “they,” the people in the video, “claim to be his friends as well as associates of an LA street gang,” but the video actually makes no reference to gangs at all, nor do the lyrics reference anything about gangs, nor does the imagery point to anything gang related in the video. The video’s producer, Nash Baker, actually made sure that nothing about gangs would be included in this video, but regardless of his efforts, the police with the assistance of McDade from KTLA interjected gang into this music video when it was not present. McDade lets Police Protective League (PPL) president Tyler Izen say, “in their Youtube presentation they say they are friends and associates or members of the East Coasts Crips,” a message that is completely absent in the video.

The irresponsible reporting continued with KCAL 9 reporter Elsa Ramon who also reported that the intent of the video is to “incite violence” through quotes from the PPO, without offering any other alternative interpretation. Izen tells Ramon, that the video is “at least a veiled threat against the [LAPD] police department.” The Los Angeles People’s Media believe that the LAPD’s position on calling this video a threat is racist and an excuse to put more cops on the street in their community.

The video does show 25 to 30 people from various ages both genders in support of the anti-excessive force message of the video while wearing “Save Black Boys” t-shirts, but there is no way, that even a trained expert can determine who is and who it not a gang member by just examining the actions in the video. Another issue that both the media and police rarely ever address is, what exactly determines a gang member and what is the criteria that lands a person on an LAPD gang file.

Police often deal with the question by stating that whomever they refer to as a gang member already “self-admitted” to being a gang member, which is a convenient way to avoid dealing with the more complicated questions of definition and criteria. Yes, some gang members will admit to their membership, especially the younger ones that do not understand the implications that such admission will have in the future, but the overwhelming majority will never freely tell a police officer, “I am a gang member, put me on the gang list.” The police have to make this determination on their own and they rather just identify all the black youth gang that associate together as gang members.

Is CeeBo a gang member? Was Ezell Ford a gang member? Are the people in the music video gang members and does being a gang member mean different things for different people within the same gang? Are all gang members violent and if they are not, how does law enforcement describe the street gang in the context of non-violent legal activity of most gang members? It gets very complicated and they try to avoid dealing with these issues by just drawing on stereo types to suggest that guys like Ezell Ford and Ceebo and other from this area are combative, black thugs that deserve aggressive police tactics including deadly force, and they will interpret images of this video, to feed that message to the public and media.

The PPL has warned LAPD officers that Ceebo’s video was from a “street gang” that called for revenge for Ford’s death, which included “obvious threats against the police.” Because of their interpretation of the video, they are increasing patrols in the area and eliminating single-officer units and increasing overall uniform patrol. Ceebo is the only rapper that performed in this song, and he was not representing East Coast Crip. Also Ceebo never mentioned Chief Charlie Beck, as Ice-T did in his 1993 Cop Killer when he mention LAPD Chief Daryl Gate, he never says the LAPD nor does he hold or showoff any weapons in the video.

The protests at the LAPD headquarters in downtown Los Angeles and on Broadway & 65th Street in the wake of Ezell Ford killing have been non-violent in comparison to those in Ferguson, MO, and the community has showed a tremendous amount of restraint despite what they are calling a murder of Ford, restraint that law enforcement rarely shows when one of there is killed on the streets.

Posted by on Aug 24 2014. Filed under Features, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

3 Comments for “Police are claiming Ceebo’s protest video is a threat to the LAPD”

  1. shocks

    the PD is the enemy in the hood, but they r your friend in the burbs

  2. SilentOne

    WTF? Is this what L.A. hip hop sounds like these days? Drill wannabe bullsh*%. Keep it (G)Funky!

  3. JC

    A very well written article. Thank you! The police shootings are very unprofessional and they can now be seen as gang members themselves. It is not bad enough that they are targeting innocent black boys (men), but since 2010 the police in every state have been targeting our family pets. In 2012 I went back to school to study criminal justice, not so I can become a police officer, but to help people protect their pets from the police! I see the police shootings as a cowardice act against the public. Police now target the innocent that can’t fight back, that is a sign of a psychotic ki*ler (aren’t we suppose to lock those type up?)!!!

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