A New York City nonprofit legal group is under fire for taking part in the controversial “Hands Up” rap video. The video, which calls attention to the fact that young Black men die disproportionately at the hands of law enforcement, also appears to advocate violence against police officers, according to NY1.
Mayor Bill de Blasio and the city’s Department of Investigation (DOI) have issued a stern reprimand to the Bronx Defenders, a nonprofit legal services agency that receives millions of dollars in city funding, for allegedly taking part in the video, the report says.
The video by Brooklyn rappers Uncle Murda and Maino called “Hands Up” contains lyrics that say police officers should be killed and shows rappers pointing guns at actors dressed as NYPD cops, NY1 reports.
Uncle Murda told NY1 that the Bronx Defenders didn’t know about the outcome of the final product, adding that “Hands Up” is not a “cop killer” song. He told the news outlet that it’s about unarmed Black men being killed by police officers.
The Bronx Defenders, which says it “fights for systemic change and promotes justice for the community” on its web site, apologized for the video, saying it was not approved and staff did not review it before it was posted online. DOI, however, says the agency knew about the lyrics and has jeopardized its credibility, the news outlet writes.
Specifically, DOI accuses two of the agency’s lawyers of serious misconduct for acting in the video and allowing parts of it to be shot in their offices, the report says. Officials say the agency could fire or demote those involved with the video.
The video’s release comes at a tense time in the city in the aftermath of the shooting deaths of two police by a gunman, who claimed it was in retaliation for the deaths of two unarmed Black men—Eric Garner of Staten Island and Michael Brown of Ferguson, Mo.—who died this summer at the hands of White officers. The shootings sparked ongoing protests against police violence in the Black community.
De Blasio, who has been outspoken against police violence, came under fire from police union leaders who accused him of creating an anti-police environment before the officers’ shooting. Now, speaking out against the video has given de Blasio a platform to show support for police, the news site notes.
For his part, Uncle Murda, who name checks Malcolm X in the video, stands by his work. “It was just like, ‘You know what? It’s time to make a record,’” he told NY1. “And not so much of a negative record, where we’re talking about, ‘Yeah, let’s go kill the police’ or do something like that, but let’s just talk about what happened and what needs to happen. Change needs to happen.”
Watch the video here: