Opinion: Fresno Artist Promoting Respect for Police is Misguided at Best

Dancing monkey

Local rap artist KAYO just released a silly video with even sillier imagery; members of the Fresno Police Department dancing in front of a helicopter to a chorus celebrating the mutual respect between police and the community. This only grows more absurd as the artists looks exactly like someone who could become a victim of police racial profiling.

While this may have all of the sentiments of a cute and cuddly video featuring a genre of music know for its gritty lyrics often aimed police, it is actually an anthem celebrating obedience and subservience to law enforcement and the arbitrary augmentations on our behavior that they mindlessly enforce.

Lyrics from the first verse read: Snakes up in the grass, they be counting cash, focus on the guap, I aint here to jock, once the money switch, watch their morals flop.

If this lyric doesn’t invoke parallels the predatory methods used by police to generate profit and the flip-flopping of the “save the world” police rookie to the rogue cops who participate in criminal rackets to pad their own pockets, you aren’t aware of the colored history of the Fresno police department. Officers with the Fresno Police Department have been charged with prostitution, auto theft, operating chop shops, drug trafficking just to name a few. In fact for every crime that a bulldog member has been arrested for you can find a cop who was involved in the same activities. The difference is the gang member doesn’t pretend to protect me before violating me.

The chorus lyrics read: We give respect to the church, We give respect to the burbs, We give respect to the block, Even give it to the cops.

The irony of this chorus shouldn’t be lost on the listener. Churches have historically violated human rights in order to further their religious agenda. Slavery, assault, battery and sex crimes are just a few of the activities churches have been and are involved in. Cops have been involved in slavery, assault, battery and sex crimes as well. Only they take it a step further and avoid all responsibility for their crimes by hiding behind a badge. The lyrics about the burbs and the block are probably just catchy lines that allow for the artist to end by saying we give respect to the cops.

The entire song is full of hyperbole and semantics, while ignoring the historical realities of what he is saying. After all how are we supposed to give our respect to the cops who murdered Freddy Centeno or Dylan Noble? Are we supposed to respect Keith Foster after he was arrested for trafficking heroin and other drugs? This culture of unconditional respect for authority is not only irresponsible it’s dangerous.

The second verse is full of references to slavery, field workers and house hands. Again the verse ends on a chorus about respecting the church and the cops; both institutions are responsible in their own right for the perpetuation of slavery and white supremacy. The catholic church used slave labor to build cathedrals in South America, Southern preachers used biblical slavery to justify slavery in the church.

When said those held as slaves tried to escape it was the slave patrol or “police” who brought them back to the people who claimed ownership of them. When looked at objectively the slave owner is the criminal and the slave is the victim but still the police upheld the law regardless of their better conscience.

To make the situation even more interesting KAYO released a video at the end of 2015 titled #HandsUpDontShoot in which he takes aim at the police and the never-ending string of bodies left in the wake of what modern society has agreed is good policing. The video starts with footage of the murder of Ernest Duenez Jr by Manteca police officer John Moody and is filled with images of the Ferguson Riots and the Eric Garner protests. While the song has a great message, I have questions about the sincerity of the artist and the motives for writing it.

If the artist truly understands that policing is not about protection but is in fact about profit, what would prompt them to write a song about giving respect to the people who uphold that institution and make possible the predatory practices that American law enforcement participate in on a daily basis? Is he merely trying to capitalize off situations that are making headlines or is he being sincere in his actions?

There was a lot of uproar surrounding the song and local artist Knodaledge of the popular rap Duo Alpha Force wrote a song as an open letter to Jerry Dyer addressing the issue of respect between police and marginalized communities in Fresno. Taking aim at the Foster plea deal and instances of excessive force committed by officers against the community they claim to protect and serve.

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