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Re: “Rap's Poetic License: Revoked

Some might say it cuts both ways! In one Texas murder trial Ronald Howard, a convicted murderer, got his death penalty sentence reduced to life in prison because he was influenced by rap music.

In April 1992, Howard was driving through the state in a stolen car. He was pulled over by Texas state trooper Bill Davidson for a possible traffic violation and became uneasy about the stolen car. During the encounter, Howard removed a nine millimeter Glock pistol from his glove compartment and shot officer Davidson, killing him at the scene. At the time of the incident, Howard had a pirated copy of the gangster rap tape "2Pacalypse Now" performed by Tupac Shakur playing in his automobile's cassette deck.

Howard's attorney, Allen Tanner presented the influence of music to reduce Howard's sentence from the death penalty to life in prison. The fact that Howard killed Davidson did not have to be debated. Tanner commented: "I think when he was pulled over down near Victoria, those songs blasting in his ears…it all just stressed him out at the moment, and he did a terrible thing." Later he added, "The only people who are doing any good out of this music are the musicians and the big companies who are making millions of dollars. They're out in California enjoying all the money they've made... and Ronald Howard is facing the death penalty." Tanner also used the knowledge of Joseph Stuessy, head of the music division at the University of Texas-San Antonio. Stuessy had testified before a U.S. Senate committee on the effects of heavy metal music on behavior earlier in his career and testified again on behalf of Howard. "If you get a kid already at risk, with a matrix of problems... the music can be a triggering device."

Officer Davidson's family sought damages from Tupac and the record companies for gross negligence in writing and distributing music intended to 'incite immediate lawless action. The courts did not rule in favor of them. On March 28, 1997, United States District Court Judge John D. Rainey concluded: "2Pacalypse Now is both disgusting and offensive. That the album has sold hundreds of thousands of copies is an indication of society's aesthetic and moral decay. However, the First Amendment became part of the Constitution because the Crown sought to suppress the Farmers' own rebellious, sometimes violent views. Thus, although the Court cannot recommend 2Facalypse Now to anyone, it will not strip Shakur's free speech rights based on the evidence presented by the Davidsons."

Lives have probably been lost and people have probably suffered, yet the gangster rap industry is still flourishing. Society has noticed the negative influence this music has had, yet we still continue to make it succeed through number of record sales. Is there a way to completely solve this problem? The answer is no. Referring back to the words of Judge Rainey, gangster rap is not a commendable thing, but there is no way to get by the First Amendment's guarantee of freedom of speech, making it impossible to restrict the words and messages given off by the gangster rap genre. While it literally is still only a type of music, gangster rap has definite influence and power.

While the above case is not the same as using a rapper's work to enhance his own conviction and penalty, if other facts convict the rapper of crimes, some might say it is kharma that the penalty is enhanced a bit in consideration of the influence that rapper's profitable "art" probably had and probably will have on others.

2 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by William H. Thompson on 04/30/2015 at 1:43 AM

Re: “Affordable Housing Now

I'm not white, I grew up in Oakland (in fact in the Eastlake on E.19th above Park Blvd), lived in Oakland for better part of my life from 1972 through 2001. Always been very proud of my hometown and it's diversity...I am a product of that. After living in SF and LA, I moved back in 2013 and I like this new vibe that Oakland is so deserving of. From my perspective, Oakland feels more alive than it has ever feels vibrant like a city should be....while maintaining it's diversity:….

I believe if ANY city can do right by it's history/culture, all of its residents and investment/ is Oakland...however not without it's challenges.

I also agree with the author's specific demand: "We want the mayor and the city council to create a real affordable housing plan that ensures sustainable investment in our communities, not development that leads to displacement".

However, I do not agree with the extreme liberties/tactics the author takes to state his/her point:

"We will not be manipulated or ignored by government officials and profit-driven business persons who have zero interest in the wellbeing, security, and quality of life for Black, Brown, and Asian communities." Really? "Zero interest" - Pretty extreme....the most recent development breaking ground in downtown Oakland is an affordable housing project that according to this article was made possible in part by a grant from Oakland:….

And then.... "We demand an Oakland in which Black families feel free to enjoy Lake Merritt without fear of suspicion that could end in their death — another Trayvon Martin gunned down for being in the "wrong neighborhood." Really? Like I said, I recently returned to Oakland and I love the new vibe. I've never seen Lake Merritt so alive with diversity including people of color in the 40+ years that I've come to love this city. I would ask the author of this opinion piece and EBX to go to the Lake Merritt Facebook page and really see if their claim that "Black families can't enjoy Lake Merritt" is a founded assertion:…. (Or Google "Lake Merritt Sundays" on Google Images for that matter).

Finally "we reject all major capital projects in this city that serve to gentrify neighborhoods and callously displace long-term residents."... There are absolutely ZERO construction cranes in Oakland, despite the fact the fact that people are moving to Oakland, despite the fact that Oakland is the geographical center of the Bay Area and Oakland is NOT getting it's FAIR SHARE of economic investment that other cities in the region are getting in the current economic boom cycle. And if we keep protesting it, we will miss the boat... AGAIN.

So yes, there are many "projects" in the pipeline, but what exactly are you rejecting or protesting? The displacement is happening in large part because absolutely no market rate housing is or has been built in Oakland since the Bay Area has boomed post-recession.

Instead of protesting this ONE project with misleading commentary/tactics or any of the other 1 or 2 in Downtown Oakland projects that MIGHT break ground this year....why not promote constructive dialog that will advance Oakland without being so devisive? And in the process why not give our new mayor the chance to execute her vision that "Oakland cannot afford to sell its soul for growth. Our soul is way too beautiful." ?

37 likes, 3 dislikes
Posted by rossrich66 on 04/29/2015 at 11:43 PM

Re: “Rap's Poetic License: Revoked

Just another example of the way racism twists things. Part of the attempt to re-enslave black people. I say this as a 72 year old white woman.

0 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Connie Tyler on 04/29/2015 at 10:28 PM

Re: “Affordable Housing Now

I actually thought this issue was about more than just the blacks being displaced. I mean most blacks that lived in Oakland have already moved on. This new Oakland don't care nothing about black people that have been here for decades and just for note not all black people in Oakland or low are middle class. It's been made plain and clear with the comments and attitudes displayed that non black Oakland don't care about the displacement of anyone. All they see is opportunity. Their answer is "if you can't afford to live here then move somewhere you can afford" There is so much wrong with that statement I won't even get into it here. I think the saddest part of this all is that by looking at gentrification nationwide and genocide as a blueprint, is that some people don't want to co habit at all with anyone that is not like them, they just want to take over. Sometimes you can wash a city so clean it losing it's flavor. That is where Oakland is headed. Development is always welcomed but why does that have to include the systematic strategic displacement of it's long time residents. It also has nothing to do with blacks destroying and not taking care of the neighborhood. I am JUST now seeing THE CITY actually cut the grass in the parks and providing more trash cans around Lake Merritt neighborhoods and safer sidewalks. The residents can only do so much without city official involvements. Blacks care about the landscape just as much as anyone other race but if the city is not making an effort to provide that it won't get done. They know see reason to provide those services. So the unheard remains unheard. Until now

12 likes, 22 dislikes
Posted by John Blaze on 04/29/2015 at 9:36 PM

Re: “Affordable Housing Now

While I'm not unsympathetic to the need for affordable housing. I'm somewhat offended by this letter. The housing and economic issues are important to ALL working residents of Oakland. Not just people of "color." The lives of "all" residents of Oakland matter. Once again Oakland "activists" come across as uninformed and self-serving. Also the statement that there is "rampant" killings of black people by the Oakland police is patently false. There is a real issue with the over militarization of police in our country. The rampant killing of people of color in Oakland is perpetrated mainly by thugs, drug dealers and gang members NOT the police. But the "Black" residents of Oakland don't seem willing to stand up against this much bigger problem.

36 likes, 13 dislikes
Posted by Fred Jones on 04/29/2015 at 9:08 PM

Re: “Affordable Housing Now

This comment was removed because it violates our policy against anonymous comments. It will be reposted if the commenter chooses to use his or her real name.

8 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by Editor on 04/29/2015 at 6:30 PM

Re: “Affordable Housing Now

It's important to look at what was built not just in one year, but over the long run. For the period 1999-2014, which covers the last two Housing Element periods and includes both boom and bust cycles, the City's own figures show that only 26% of all new housing was affordable. The rest was market rate housing, at costs that are two to three times what the average Oaklander can afford. With the elimination of redevelopment, the City cannot even maintain that level of affordable housing production going forward.

The issue isn't whether there should be market-rate development. The issue is whether scarce public land, rather than other privately-owned land, should be used for luxury housing or should be used to ensure that there's at least a modicum of affordable housing built in areas that are being planned for gentrification.

22 likes, 9 dislikes
Posted by Jeffrey Levin on 04/29/2015 at 5:18 PM

Re: “Affordable Housing Now

I am sickened to read that the city of Oakland is going to sell city-owned land and then allow luxury housing to be built on it. Building a highrise of affordable housing on CITY OWNED LAND is one of the optimal ways to add to affordable housing.

I am sure a nonprofit affordable housing developer would love to build on that land.

It is a sin for Oakland to sell public land for a private luxury development, privatizing all profit and all potential housing for the rich.

The public scoundrels who have worked on this deal in violation of public meetings laws and with a lack of transparency with the people who own the land (all the residents of Oakland own it) will, I hope, at least have to answer to their maker. Right now they only seem to answer to rich donors.

16 likes, 25 dislikes
Posted by Therese Fitzpatrick on 04/29/2015 at 4:54 PM

Re: “Affordable Housing Now

Also, 100% affordable housing? In 2014 72% of housing was affordable (which is probably why only 700 or so total units were built in 2014). Of course, activists are not happy with nearly 3/4 of new housing being affordable - they want 100%. We can expect zero new housing will be built, not only will existing rents skyrocket, homes that would otherwise be stagnant and in disrepair will increase in value solely for the land they are sitting - which will then be refurbished and sold off, further displacing long term residents of the community.

This is, once again, a failure to understand that gentrification is not the cause, but rather the effect (of lack of housing). This fundamentally flawed understanding the current housing crisis, is only going to further accelerate the displacement process. Activists are effectively shooting themselves in the foot. Of course, that is if their true goal is to keep housing affordable, rather than having a cause to rail against.

28 likes, 8 dislikes
Posted by Clarence C. Johnson on 04/29/2015 at 3:24 PM

Re: “Affordable Housing Now

" outright unethical manipulation of elders in the Asian-American community by UrbanCore officials"

Wow. That EBX would allow such a false statement to be published proves that it does not really care about journalistic standards, but rather winning the propaganda war. EBX's own reporting never mentions UrbanCore officials at all, but rather implied an Asian-American business owner in the area tried to mislead elderly Asians into supporting the project. The editors know this and yet allow it to be published on their website. EBX should be ashamed of themselves.

21 likes, 5 dislikes
Posted by Clarence C. Johnson on 04/29/2015 at 3:17 PM

Re: “The East Bay Hip-Hop Scene Will No Longer Be Ignored

With no disrespect to these (to borrow jazz phraseology) 'young lions' of East Bay rap, Oakland and the greater Eastbay has already gone through at least two or three cycles as a hip hop hotbed. The late mid/late 80's saw Oakland well represented by Too Short with his low and slow deep bass tracks and even MC Hammer was a well respected rapper before being ostracized and ridiculed for being commercial (unfairly and only to see the likes of P-Diddy gain fame by taking up that mantle). The early 90's saw back packers like Souls of Mischief and the rest of the Hiero collective, the emergence of the Luniz, Digitial Underground and their introduction of some guy named Tupac Shakur,the first iteration of E-40 and family (The Click), and the continued presence of Too Short- others of prominence include Spice1, the first iteration of the Coup. ALL of these groups and others were prominent nationally- the mid 90's. with the likes of 3x Crazy with Keek the Sneek, etc... are essentially the bridge to the aught's hyphy and today's current crop of Oakland/EastBay rappers. Oakland has always held it's own musically and rap is no different. To imply that Oakland is JUST NOW being recognized serves as a poster child for "New Oakland" ignorance to what was here before the '99ers began to settle here.

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by Anthony Moore on 04/29/2015 at 12:49 PM

Re: “Affordable Housing Now

If you believe that demand is inexhaustible and that new supply has no effect, then it doesn't matter if this tower is built or not -- the forces driving gentrification are equally satisfied through buying and renovating existing structures.

26 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Ian Rees on 04/29/2015 at 12:33 PM

Re: “Affordable Housing Now

I'm sympathetic to these folks' situation, but their strategy is so, so misguided.

The idea that "When the city prioritizes developments like the luxury tower on the East 12th Street parcel rather than affordable housing, it further exacerbates the housing crisis and displacement of low-income Black people" is exactly backwards. You block high-end housing, the rich people just keep moving into West O, Temescal, Jingletown, and all the rest.

It might be true that the best option would be large-scale provision of new public/subsidized housing, but neither Oakland, the State, nor the Federal government is in a position to do that. The only viable hope is high-density development + impact fees/inclusionary zoning.

The alternative is what has happened to SF: every new development takes twice as long and is half as dense as it would otherwise be, and rents are totally unaffordable.

19 likes, 3 dislikes
Posted by C.J. Garrett on 04/29/2015 at 11:23 AM

Re: “Rap's Poetic License: Revoked

This comment was removed because it violates our policy against anonymous comments. It will be reposted if the commenter chooses to use his or her real name.

4 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by Editor on 04/29/2015 at 11:23 AM

Re: “The Real Oakland Warrior

This comment was removed because it violates our policy against anonymous comments. It will be reposted if the commenter chooses to use his or her real name.

2 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Editor on 04/29/2015 at 7:51 AM

Re: “Affordable Housing Now

There is no leadership in the City of Oakland ready to have an honest dialogue with the citizens about affordable housing. They are not willing to have the conversation because that conversation always comes down to race and privilege. It's the race of those with little or no economic or political power and the privilege of those with access to manipulate the system and maximize their profits. Oakland is not alone. Despite a 25 year old specific plan (North Area) promoting dense multiple family housing along E14th st in San Leandro, the only development in the ground is senior housing. Why? It is because the citizens and the City Council believe that if they build new multiple family housing there, the "people" from Oakland will move in. The political climate must not have changed much because the only multiple family housing being built today at San Leandro BART (Davis St) is for seniors. When the City of El Cerrito looked to redevelop the El Cerrito Plaza site in the 90's, they had a menu of land uses to consider. However, what was politically expedient was to build a generic retail shopping center and no housing. Why? Because the citizens did not want folks from Richmond taking over the site and any housing at the BART station would surely have to be affordable. You can go through many cities in this region and see the same dance. Thank God for folks like George Lucas in Marin County who has enough of his own money to deliver his affluent neighbors the gift of affordable housing and some regular people living in their neighborhood.

12 likes, 7 dislikes
Posted by Gary Patton on 04/29/2015 at 4:33 AM

Re: “Campaign Contributions from Oakland Luxury Tower Developer May Have Been Illegal

The Mayors office response to accepting illegal campaign contributions from this group and violating local ordinances is that they gave the money back. REALLY? That really inspires my confidence in the Mayors office (lol). It seems to me that Mayor Schaaf is in over her head and doesn't even know the rules of the game. In addition, she seems to be following the direction of interim city administrator John Flores (Emeryville ex city manager) and has hired nothing but ex Emeryville senior management staff. Again, we are seeing the downside of the strong Mayor ballot Measure X. Just because you can win a Mayoral election in a city where less than 40% of the population votes does not mean you are qualified to run a city. Hold on citizens of Oakland you are in for a ride.

12 likes, 18 dislikes
Posted by Gary Patton on 04/29/2015 at 4:03 AM

Re: “Affordable Housing Now

This comment was removed because it violates our policy against anonymous comments. It will be reposted if the commenter chooses to use his or her real name.

10 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Editor on 04/28/2015 at 9:35 PM

Re: “Deadly Oakland Fire Ignites Tenant-Landlord Dispute

This is not the Kim I know. I sure hope this story isn't correct. Kim has done extremely well in the real estate business. He and his wife are top producers at Coldwell Banker and he owns extensive properties all over the area. I've always considered him an ethical person who does the right thing... I certainly hope he continues to earn and deserve such trust.

1 like, 5 dislikes
Posted by Fred Dodsworth on 04/28/2015 at 12:35 AM

Re: “The Case for Banning Monsanto's Roundup

Monsanto...the company that brought us PCB's, DDT and Agent Orange. I don't believe anything they or their paid spokesmen say.

4 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Martin Privat on 04/27/2015 at 11:03 AM

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