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Free Chief Keef!

"Just weeks after releasing his debut album, Finally Rich, South Side rapper Chief Keef was taken in handcuffs from juvenile court Tuesday after a Cook County judge ordered him held in custody," the Tribune reports.

"Judge Carl Anthony Walker ruled that Chief Keef had violated his probation for a 2011 gun conviction by holding a rifle at a gun range in New York while a video was being shot last summer.

"Prosecutors have been seeking to detain the 17-year-old rap sensation for weeks, most recently alleging that he had violated his probation by moving to a north suburb without telling authorities. Police interest in Chief Keef, whose real name is Keith Cozart, grew after he sent a taunting tweet following the slaying of aspiring rapper Lil Jojo in September.

"After the judge ordered him taken into custody, Chief Keef emptied his pockets and handed his cellphone to his uncle before a court deputy escorted him from the courtroom in handcuffs, according to his lawyer.

"During the approximately two-hour hearing, a gun range employee testified that Chief Keef was holding the rifle during an on-camera interview by Pitchfork Media, an Internet-based music publication.

"The judge ruled that by holding the firearm, Chief Keef violated the terms of his 18-month probation sentence for pointing a gun at a Chicago police officer in 2011, according to Andy Conklin, a spokesman for the state's attorney's office."

Could you sound more clueless, Tribune? Yes, if you are the Sun-Times! But first . . .

Describing "Pitchfork Media" as "an Internet-based music publication" is like describing Rolling Stone as a "print-based music publication in case you've never heard of it."

It may have escaped notice of Trib staffers outside of rock critic Greg Kot, but Pitchfork has been the most influential music authority for years - and it was founded right here in Chicago!

(There are ways to write both knowingly and for less-informed readers at the same time; for example, you could write ". . . a video interview for Pitchfork, which in its 17-odd years has eclipsed Rolling Stone as the leading arbiter of taste among the young, the hip and most discerning - some would say insufferable - music fans." Or, just write "Pitchfork, widely regarded as the coolest kids on the block - for better and worse - when it comes to music tastemaking.")

Second, the Trib account makes it sound like Keef came to a video shoot strapped, quite casually violating the terms of his probation. Wrong. Pitchfork arranged the shoot (no pun intended) and it was at a gun range. He was given a gun. By the range. For this, Pitchfork has apologized.

That's what makes this ruling so maddening. And that's what this sentiment is all about:

*

The police are interested in Keef because A) his probation stems from an incident in which he allegedly pointed a gun at officers chasing him; B) his tweet implying he was happy to see Lil Jojo get gunned down, leading authorities to wonder if he had a part in it; and C) his alleged gang affiliations and record as, well, a delinquent.

None of which gives the criminal justice system the right to harass him. Authorities in Washington, D.C., had a better case against David Gregory, who intentionally waved an illegal gun clip on the air despite being warned against it, than authorities here going after Keef for that video shoot.

A little discretion, please.

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The Sun-Times report is even worse; it doesn't even mention Pitchfork.

Rising Chicago rapper Chief Keef nestled the butt of a Ruger 10/22 semiautomatic rifle against his shoulder and squeezed off a burst of bullets.

The markmanship demonstration was videotaped in June at a New York gun range as part of a promotion for the 17-year-old musician.

But on Tuesday, the video came back to haunt Keef, whose real name is Keith Cozart. He was thrown in jail after a Cook County juvenile court judge decided the video was evidence of a probation violation.

"There is a clear record of a disregard for the court's authority," Judge Carl Anthony Walker said. He scheduled a sentencing hearing for Thursday.

Hardly.

"[Keef attorney Dennis] Berkson also told the judge that Cozart didn't violate the spirit of his probation restrictions when he fired the gun at the New York range."

Which is true. I mean, c'mon!

The video shows Cozart - wearing white-framed sunglasses - sitting in a classroom gun-safety lecture. Later, he's on the range, wearing blue ear muffs and admiring the holes he has just fired into the chest of a paper target. He spent about 20 minutes firing the rifle, a range worker testified.

Berkson said Cozart never took the gun outside of the range and the target practice was under the strict supervision of a trainer.

"Was it stupid? Yes. Did it violate the court order? No," Berkson told the judge.

Berkson added that his teenage client was simply doing the bidding of his record company, Interscope, which arranged the target practice as part of a promotional tour.

But Brevard responded that the young rapper can't use the record company as an excuse. The company doesn't have the power to supersede a court order, he said, telling the judge: "You are above Interscope Records. You are above Chief Keef."

Oh please. Will Interscope be charged, then, with aiding and abetting a criminal?

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I understand the authorities' interest in Keef, but I also understand that there is a right way and a wrong way for law enforcement to express that interest. For example, selective enforcement of the trivial - including going after his posters in a city littered with them - is the wrong way.

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Also, wouldn't it be a good thing if Keef had actually moved to Northbrook? (Hmmm, I wonder who those "sources" were . . . )

Yes, you don't move without telling your probation officer.

Then again, a judge found that there was "no credible evidence" that he had done so.

*

Maybe for punishment the judge ought to make him live in Northbrook.

*

Back to the Sun-Times:

"Also Tuesday, prosecutors presented new evidence involving [Keef's] living arrangements.

"They said a relative of Cozart is renting a home in upscale Northbrook and [Keef's] name is on the lease - even though the rapper told his probation officer that he was living in south suburban Dolton.

"At a previous hearing, the judge was told that Cozart's manager owns the home.

"It's just more lies," said Assistant Cook County State's Attorney Jullian Brevard.

But Cozart's attorney, Dennis Berkson, insisted that his client's primary residence is in Dolton and that he's recording his second album in a studio set up in the Northbrook home.

I'm not here to defend Chief Keef but to question the integrity of a criminal justice system that is behaving in exactly the way that produces kids like him. He's a bad dude who even scares Lupe Fiasco - but is it really that hard to understand how he came to be?

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Fiasco later apologized for being scared.

*

Meanwhile:

Chief Keef's Stepbrother Shot Dead On South Side.

And:

Chief Keef's Finally Rich Has A Home At Northbrook Public Library.

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Previously:
* South Side 16-Year-Old Gets Shot, Blows Up

* Rhymefest vs. Chief Keef

* Chief Keef's Deadly Rap War

* More Sh!t Chief Keef Don't Like

* Chief Keef Loves Soda, Ain't White

* Chief Keef: Baller of Confusion

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Comments welcome.



Permalink

Posted on January 16, 2013


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