hip hop music

June 11, 2003

Activists Warn Russell Not to Rush

In my previous posts that gave props to Russell Simmons for his recent protests against the Rockefeller drug laws, I've made a point to acknowledge the other folks who were fighting this fight long before Russell joined in, such as Drop the Rock and the Kunstler Fund. Well it turns out there is some tension between those groups and Russell's people, disagreement over who should speak for this movement and what path it should take, according to the Village Voice:

Movement Hijacked by Hiphop?

...There is a sense that the momentum gained by ties to the hiphop community has eclipsed the activists who were the movement's catalysts. More importantly, activists are worried that lawmakers will just offer the new negotiators the same compromise deals that have been rejected in the past. The assembly has already presented the same legislation offered last year; Gangi called it old wine in a new bottle.

"I think that there is a concern," said Gangi, "that out of this momentum could come a 'deal' or 'compromise' that is very limited and that would be worse than no deal at all; that the governor and the legislative leaders will use the cover of Simmons's intervention to come up with a half-baked compromise that doesn't really advance the cause."

Simmons says that he is not alone in the negotiations, and progress is being made: "Deborah Small is doing negotiation. She's been working on this for many years. She's committed to closing. I'm committed to closing. We have a draft of something that we are going to circulate from the governor," said Simmons. "A lot of people are calling it a jailbreak or saying what they want to say about it, and there are other people who are saying that it's too much of a compromise, but I'm a deal maker and I want to make a deal."

But it is just this rush on Simmons's part to make a deal that has activists fearful. "There's a mixed message out there," said Credico. "Someone says that he'll take any deal. He's a deal maker. Well, you got to talk to the people you are making that deal for."

Simmons reacted strongly to the tensions that have arisen since the rally. "I've heard a lot about that. I don't give a f**k about them. All I care is that I appreciate their hard work and they are the true heroes," said Simmons. "I love Randy Credico's work. He's been excellent. But to criticize somebody for coming and adding to your effort, creating awareness of your effort— I'm not saying he's done that, but anybody who does that is missing the point. I don't give a f**k. I want to get people out of jail. That's my only objective. Get people out of jail and make the laws more fair..."

Posted by jsmooth995 at June 11, 2003 11:58 PM

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