Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams (D) said that she is “deeply concerned” about hip-hop lyrics being used as criminal evidence in court cases.
In an interview with Yahoo News published Monday, Abrams was asked about her thoughts on the criminal case against popular Atlanta-based rappers Young Thug and Gunna, who were among the more than two dozen individuals arrested and charged with racketeering by authorities May.
Prosecutors allege that Young Thug, whose real name is Jeffery Williams, formed a street gang and promoted his gang’s lifestyle through his music and social media posts. The Fulton County, Ga., indictment also include lyrics from both Williams and Gunna, whose real name is Sergio Kitchens.
“I believe in the First Amendment. I cannot speak to the particulars of this case, but I do think it is a very dangerous precedent to use someone’s written word … as a proof point,” Abrams told Yahoo News, adding that she understands people using “provocative language” in their art.
“I do not know enough about these particular cases having not been in the courtroom and having not read the pleadings,” Abrams added. “But I will say that … as someone who believes very staunchly in the First Amendment, I am deeply concerned about any movement towards using a person’s word and their music or their writing as an indictment of who they are and as a proof point without additional supports.”
Both Williams and Kitchens have been denied bail in their cases and are set to appear in court in January.
The gubernatorial candidate joins a list of prominent celebrities who have voiced concerns about the high-profile detainments of the YSL Records artists.
In an interview with ABC News, Atlanta rapper and activist Killer Mike, whose real name is Michael Render, said that rap lyrics shouldn’t be used as criminal evidence in court cases, adding that rappers often use their careers to escape their troubled upbringing on the streets of Atlanta.
“Hip-hop is not respected as an art because Black people in this country are not recognized as full human beings,” Killer Mike told ABC News in June. “If we allow the courts to prosecute these men based on characters they created and stories of pretend that they tell in rhyme, then next they’ll be at your door.”