Salim Muwakkil reports on the war against hip-hop: "Police Secretly Watching Hip-Hop Artists" read the headline of the Miami Herald article..."Miami and Miami Beach police are secretly watching and keeping dossiers on hip-hop celebrities like P. Diddy and DMX and their entourages when they come to South Florida." Police officials told the Herald they photographed rappers as they arrived at Miami International Airport and staked out hotels, nightclubs and video shoots. The reporters explained that dozens of major and minor rappers are listed and tracked in a "6-inch thick" binder supplied by the New York City Police Department (NYPD). Rap artists and others associated with hip-hop culture have long complained of being targets of police harassment. New York, the birthplace of hip-hop music, has become the de facto center of hip-hop intelligence. A special NYPD unit is dedicated to hip-hop surveillance, according to The Village Voice. Police officials downplay the reports. They insist hip-hop cops are a small part of the intelligence division's gang unit and that they simply try to preempt the kind of violence that seems to follow hip-hop artists. But the NYPD's response sparked more questions: Why is hip-hop associated with gangs? Why the intelligence division? Those preemptive strategies apparently are being adopted by police forces in other cities. The Herald noted that the NYPD hosted a three-day "hip-hop training session" in May 2003 attended by officers from "other major cities like Los Angeles and Atlanta." Miami officials said they were compelled to do a crash course on hip-hop after realizing their city was becoming a favorite destination. But just like their big-city mentors, Miami cops’ actions are being driven by stereotypes. “A lot of, if not most, rappers belong to some sort of gang,” Miami Police Sergeant Rafael Tapenes told the Herald. Law enforcement conflates gangs and hip-hop because young black men are at the core of both—the same black youth who have had problems with American law enforcement since the days of the slave patrols. Tampa just witnessed the end of a six-month long picket of a local mall by Blacks outraged by its policy - now lifted - of not allowing patrons wearing "gang clothing." It doesn't take a training session to figure out who was being let into the mall and who was being forced out.


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