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St. Louis rapper: In U.S., police murder of blacks legal in all but name

November 25th, 2014
05:08 PM ET

By Madalena Araujo, CNN

St. Louis rapper Tef Poe told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday that he has “come to terms with the fact that in the United States of America it is perfectly legal for police officers to murder people of color.”

Poe’s comments come as Americans have taken to the streets across the country to voice their frustration at a grand jury decision not to indict the police officer who shot dead an unarmed black 18-year-old in August.

The idea that a police office can kill someone without accountability is something "we’re coping with and that’s the reality that we live in."

"There is no justice when you are murdered by a police officer when you are a person of color – that is a harsh fact to embrace and accept in today’s time.”

Poe, who is calling for justice for Michael Brown and for “every victim of police brutality,” said today was “a very emotional day” for the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson.

He told Amanpour that, in his opinion, teenager Michael Brown was “murdered because [officer] Darren Wilson feared his black skin.”

Police officers are rarely charged in on-duty killings, according to research by the Bowling Green State University.

If police officers can get away with murdering people of color, Poe said, the U.S. government should make it official.

“Whenever a police officer is taken on trial for murdering an unarmed person of color, the track record in the United States of America proves to be consistent – they are let off. So now I ask the government of the United States America, put it on paper.”

“Put it on paper so the people so that the people on the streets don’t have to flood the streets, don’t have to get angry and aggressive, we don’t have to wonder why Darren Wilson was let off because we know that it is perfectly legal for him to do it. I think that we live in a state and time where it’s a complete atrocity and it just breaks my heart.”

Joining in the discussion was Glenn Harris, president of the U.S.-based Center for Social Inclusion.

Harris said we “wasn’t surprised” by the grand jury’s decision not to indict Darren Wilson, but like Poe, he called it “heartbreaking.”

However, he added, “I do think there is an opportunity to think about the ways in which we can actually change those outcomes, I think part of that is the work that is occurring right now on the ground in Ferguson, raising awareness, engaging folks in the possibility of a conversation that will maybe take it to the federal level to come back for a deeper reflection, investigation.”

“I think right now the most important point is that this isn’t the end, in many ways this is just the beginning.”

The grand jury’s decision and subsequent outrage have laid bare race relations in the country. Harris believes this is the moment to have a real “conversation” about race and social justice.

“I think that we need to find a way to have a deeper conversation not just about the pain in it but about the policy choices that we’re making. The things that Tef was naming, which is, right now, as the systems are set up, we’re generating outcomes that we see repeatedly. There is something in that process that is failing.

“We’ve seen across the country in places like Seattle that actually taking on through government, actually addressing issues of racial equity in daily policy and practice, that there’s the possibility of getting to different outcomes.”

Tef Poe, who went to Geneva with Michael Brown’s parents earlier this month as they addressed the United Nations Human Rights Council, released a song about the protests where he addressed his frustrations and criticized the authorities.

“[Ferguson Police] Chief Jackson came up with excuse after excuse and it just appears to be a complete cover-up in my opinion. I live in Missouri, I’m from St. Louis, I know how the police are, I can’t sugarcoat it for you.”

Click above to watch the full interview.

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