Run The Jewels happened to have a show in St. Louis the night that a Ferguson grand jury declined to indict Officer Darren Wilson for killing the unarmed teenager Michael Brown. And when the group came to the stage that night, Killer Mike’s intense, impassioned speech remains the most eloquent thing any musician has said about the recent epidemic of police violence. As Rolling Stone points out, the BBC recently spoke with Run The Jewels, and Killer Mike had some heavy things to say about Ferguson and its effects: “Riots work.” Allow him to elaborate:
Riots work, and I’ve never said that in that way before. I’m an American because of a riot. The Boston Tea Party is sold to us from the time we’re kindergarteners to the time we graduate high school. We’re told that Americans and patriots got so fed up with paying taxes to the crown that they decided to burn some shit to the ground. That’s what they sell to us… So when people say riots don’t work, Ferguson was over 60% a black community. They had less than 60% 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.
And here’s El-P on the whole experience:
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. Everyone else was driving as fast as they could out of St. Louis. And every word that you’re saying all of a sudden means about 100 times more than it meant the night before. And to see my friend talk, I was crying onstage. It was very powerful.
The video is worth watching; check it out here.