Rap superstar Kanye West was accused of hijacking a protest he marched in on Thursday night in Chicago demanding justice for George Floyd, the Minneapolis man whose death in police custody has led to a worldwide resurgence of the anti-police Black Lives Matter movement.
Organizers of the protest, entitled “Justice for George Floyd/CPD out of CPS,” (that is, Chicago police department out of Chicago public schools) reportedly received a call from West saying he wanted to join the protest. However, his presence apparently diverted attention away from the demonstration as crowds swarmed him as he got out of his black SUV wearing a face mask and a hoodie.
— Ramond Wilson (@AlmostRaymond_) June 5, 2020
Amid the disorder, organizers became frustrated West was distracting people from their cause. One of the organizers, Taylore Norwood, 20, grabbed a megaphone and reminded attendees it was a youth-led protest and complained that she did not want a “celebrity” hijacking the cause. “This is a youth-led rally,” Norwood said. “This is not a celebrity pop-up. You will not hijack this rally from the people who organized it.”
Presumably realizing he was unwelcome, West left the demonstration soon after and protesters marched on the Chicago Police Department headquarters as planned.
Taylore Norwood, 20, says that this Chicago march is a youth-led protest and that she doesn’t want a “celebrity” hijacking it. pic.twitter.com/uOTZapEc5x
— Grace Hauck (@grace_hauck) June 5, 2020
The organizers, according to a Facebook page for the Chicago protest Kanye attended, are “demanding that Chicago follow course” and divert funding from the Chicago police department to local initiatives. The group specifically named the Minneapolis school board, which ended its contract with the Minneapolis Police Department. “CPS is giving CPD 33 million dollars a year to police schools all while schools in urban neighborhoods lack counselors and clinical staff members.” the group’s Facebook event page reads.
Ja’Mal Green, a former surrogate for Bernie Sanders who helped organize the protest in Chicago on Thursday, is specifically calling for Chicago police to be defunded. Green puts it this way when asked by The Chicago Reporter:
I don’t know if you can end these protests with demands, but there are definitely demands on the table in all cities.
The bigger demand is to defund the police department. We’re giving billions of dollars, here in Chicago, billions to police each year. One-point-six billion just for payroll, $165 million for police misconduct, $33 million for the schools, $10 million for the park districts. They got contracts everywhere. We got $2 billion that we’re giving police departments. What folks are asking for is to defund the police and move that money to more preventative measures. We can’t police our way out of anything. All it is causing is more brutality in these communities.
West’s appearance came hours after The Courier Journal in Kentucky reported that West had offered to pay the legal fees for the family of the emergency room technician Breonna Taylor in their wrongful death lawsuit against the Louisville Metro Police Department.
“Typically, the costs would be deducted from any recovery that the family may receive at the conclusion of the case,” said Louisville prosecutor Lonita Baker. “Kanye wanted to ensure that the family would not have to bear the brunt of those costs.”
On Thursday, West also agreed to make a $2 million donation in support of George Floyd and Ahmaud Abrery’s family members as well as black-owned businesses in Chicago and other cities.
Nationwide protests, the majority of which have descended into violence, have rocked America over the past 10 days, and have even spread to other parts of the world. Many of the riots are organized by far-left groups including Black Lives Matter and Antifa, the latter of whom was recently designated as a domestic terrorist organization by the Trump administration.