ATLANTA – Stacey Abrams is siding with the artists. The Democratic candidate for the gubernatorial race in Georgia hosted a community discussion with media mogul Charlamagne Tha God, rapper and philanthropist 21 Savage and civil rights attorney Francys Johnson on Sept. 8.
The discussion touched on a wide range of topics, including from Abrams’ plan to assist Black men, promote education, support gun control and improve health care. One of 21 Savage’s questions, however, was a standout during the candid discussion.
“I’ve been seeing a lot of stuff about candidates trying to shut down studios,” Savage said. “What are you going to do to protect entertainers like me?”
The question comes amid the Fulton County DA serving RICOs to groups of artists, using song lyrics in official court documents and indictments as evidence. The most notable case is YSL, with two of hip-hop’s biggest names, Gunna and Young Thug behind bars for nearly four months now. A more recent situation surfaced with Fulton County cracking down on suspects who were robbing homes of Atlanta’s celebrities, including Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley and music superstar Mariah Carey.
“You do not get to commit crimes in my county, and then decide to brag on it, which you do that for a form of intimidation, to further the gang and not be held responsible,” Fani Willis said during the press conference announcing the RICO charges against the alleged celebrity burglars. “Just one of the lyrics used in this indictment is, ‘Me and my crew striking out. Striking in all black. Send me the drop, we’ll kick in the house. If we steal a car, we gone take off the tag.’
“Well, they’re kicking in doors, committing home invasions, and now I’m using those lyrics [to say] that they’re admitting to crimes.”
Abrams doesn’t agree with Willis’ approach.
“I have disagreed publicly with the district attorney about using lyrics as a predicate,” Abrams said. “I’m a writer, I write for a living. People wonder where my money comes from, finally, people started buying my books. I appreciate that thank you, but the reality is we cannot thwart the entertainment industry in pursuit of justice. Now, we need justice, and those who are bad apples need to be held accountable, but anytime you treat everyone as a suspect until proven innocent, you are creating a chilling effect on not only the economy but on trust in the system. So I don’t believe in that kind of blanket approach. I don’t think it has ever worked.”
— Rashad Milligan (@RashadMilligan) September 10, 2022
Abrams is currently running against incumbent Brian Kemp. Early voting begins Oct. 17 and Election Day is Nov. 8.