A host of hip-hop performers and R&B stars including Alicia Keys, Mary J. Blige, Khalid, and Offset and Quavo from Migos have released a video public-service announcement drawing attention to people of color killed by police.
Keys, 39, a former Muttontown resident who has won 15 Grammy Awards including song of the year, opens the 3-minute “17 Ways Black People Are Killed in America,” calling it a follow-up to a 2016 video listing 23 settings in which police killed primarily unarmed Black people. “I can’t believe I’m back four years later with 17 more ways you can be killed,” she says.
The PSA, released Monday by NowThis News, then brings on remote images of 17 stars reciting a litany of innocent acts that led to specific Black people’s deaths by police: “Leaving a party: Jordan Edwards,” begins Khalid, 22, referring to the Texas 15-year-old youth fatally shot as he and three others drove away from police Officer Roy Oliver, who had responded to a report of a noisy party. Oliver was found guilty of murder in 2018 and sentenced to 15 years in prison, a conviction upheld on appeal this past August.
“Sitting in a wheelchair: Jeremy McDole,” says R&B artist Summer Walker, 24, recalling the 2015 case of a 28-year-old disabled man in Wilmington, Delaware, shot by four members of the police under disputed circumstances. While none of the officers was charged with a crime, a federal judge in 2017 approved the city’s $1.5 million settlement with the McDole family.
Other names of the dead are shockingly familiar. Three-time Grammy nominated hip-hop star Rapsody, who turns 33 on Thursday, intones, “Accused of using a fake twenty [dollar bill] George Floyd.” Keys provides no. 17: “Sleeping in your bed: Breonna Taylor.”
Over photos from 2020’s Black Lives Matter marches, Washington, D.C., landmarks and various politicians, graphical text reads: “More than 1,000 people were killed by current or former police officers in 2020. The lives lost to police violence are disproportionately Black and brown people.” The video urges viewers to support legislation by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) calling for a commission to address and correct racial injustice.
The video, produced in-house by NowThis News’ Matty Greene, concludes with the appeal “Support the U.S. Commission on Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation at breathewithmerevolution.org.”Subscribe to the Entertainment newsletter
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The 2016 video, “23 Ways You Could Be Killed If You Are Black in America,” produced by Bustle Digital Group’s Mic.com, featured Keys, Beyoncé, Rihanna, Jennifer Hudson, Pink, Bono and others.
By Frank Lovece
Special to Newsday