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Atlanta DA's Go-To Tactic: Using Rap Lyrics as Evidence

When Fulton County, Ga., District Attorney Fani Willis announced in this week's indictment of a home-invasion gang that she would rely on rap lyrics as key pieces of incriminating evidence, she was following a pattern her office has set in recent months, CNN reports. The Atlanta-area prosecutor has been unabashed in her use of the strategy, despite complaints by artists that it reflects a racist double standard. "I think if you decide to admit your crimes over a beat, I'm going to use it," said Willis, who is Black. "I'm not targeting anyone, but however, you do not get to commit crimes in my county and then decide to brag on it." She added, "I have some legal advice. Don't confess to crimes on rap lyrics if you do not want them used."

In May, following the arrests of Atlanta's Young Thug and Gunna, a 56-count indictment included the artists' lyrics among allegations they violated the state's Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. Among those cited were the Thugger lyrics, "I'm prepared to take them down" and "I never killed anybody but I got something to do with that body." This week's RICO indictment of 26 alleged members of the Drug Rich Gang, who are charged with kidnappings, armed robberies and home invasions targeting celebrities, cited such lyrics as "Me and my crew striking out, striking in all black;" "Send me the drop, we'll kick in the house;" and, "If we steal a car, we're gonna take off the tag." New York and California legislators are trying to pass laws setting limits on the strategy's use in their states. A U.S. House bill is also pending consideration.


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