FBI out of line
A California congressman blasted the Federal Bureau of Investigation for
violating its charter after the bureau took an official position on the
controversial rap song "Fuck the Police", by NWA (Niggers With Attitudes), a
group from Compton, California. The congressman's move came in the wake of
an FBI letter sent to NWA's label, Priority Records, that condemned the song
for "advocating violence and assault" against police.
"This smacks of censorship, and the FBI shouldnt be in the business of
censorship", said Congressman Don Edwards, Democrat of San Jose, California,
who is chairman of a House subcommittee that monitors the bureau's
activities. Edwards -- a former G-man himself -- contacted the FBI on
October 10th, objecting to its letter about NWA and demanding a full
explanation. In addition, the American Civil Liberties Union in Washington,
DC, protested the FBI's action and called on the Justice Department to
retract the letter.
Members of NWA would not comment on the issue, although group member and
songwriter Ice Cube previously called the track a "revenge fantasy" stemming
from what NWA views as repeated police harassment of young blacks. Priority
--More-- Records chief Bryan Turner said, "We dont advocate violence in any way, shape
or form, but we do advocate freedom of speech." Turner recently returned
from the Soviet Union, where he lined up a Russian distribution deal for
Priority albums that could include "Straight Outta Compton", which contains
the inflammatory tune.
The FBI's letter, signed by assistant director and bureau spokesman Milt
Ahlerich, claimed the angry rap number "encourages violence against and
disrespect for the law enforcement officer", describing the "unprecendented"
surge in violent crime and detailing statistics of police murders during
1988. Concluding that "music plays a significant role in society", the
letter ended on an ominous note, warning Priority "to be aware of the FBI's
position relative to this song and its message."
Earlier this year, the song became subject of an intense fax campaign
among local police departments, with the lyrics transmitted to cops in cities
where NWA toured. The number was deliberately excluded from the tour's
regular set list, but when a few lines of "Fuck the Police" were chanted at a
Detroit concert, a scuffle broke out, and group members were later briefly
detained by local authorities.
- Jeffrey Ressner, Rolling Stone Magazine
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