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Rapper Killer Mike pleads with Atlanta demonstrators to "burn" systemic racism, not the city

Rapper Killer Mike urges calm in Atlanta
Rapper Killer Mike urges calm in Atlanta 08:19

Killer Mike said Friday night that he's "tired of seeing black men die." But in an address to those participating in violent protests across Atlanta on Friday night, the rapper tearfully urged them to not destroy a city built on black-owned businesses and a history of civil rights.

Atlanta was one of many cities that faced violent protests on Friday in response to the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after a white officer kneeled on his neck for several minutes. Protesters in the city set a police car on fire, smashed windows at the CNN building, and damaged several other buildings and businesses. 

Killer Mike joined Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and rapper T.I. to address the violence Friday night, saying that while he feels that same hurt and anger as demonstrators, "it is your duty not to burn your own house down for anger with an enemy. It is your duty to fortify your own house so that you may be a house of refuge in times of organization." 

Killer Mike said that watching an officer "assassinate" a black man was "crippling." He compared the officer's knee being on Floyd's neck to "a zebra in the clutch of a lion's jaw." 

"We watch it like murder porn over and over again, so that is why children are burning it to the ground. They don't know what else to do," he said, adding that now is the time for people to plan, organize, and mobilize.

"It is responsibility of us to make this better, right now. We don't want to see one officer charged, we want to see four officers prosecuted and sentenced," he said. "We do not want to see targets burning, we want to see the system that sets up for systemic racism, burned to the ground." 

The way to make that change, he said, is to remember those who helped steer the Civil Rights movement. 

"I know that tore your heart out. And I know it is crippling, and I have nothing positive to say in this moment because I don't want to be here. But I am responsible to be here because it wasn't just Dr. King and people dressed nicely who marched and protested to progress this city and so many other cities," he said. "It was people like my grandmother, people like my aunts and uncles."

Instead of spending time participating in the violent protests, Killer Mike's final advice to demonstrators was to channel their anger and frustration into making political change. 

"Two of the most effective ways, is first, taking your butt to the computer and making sure you fill out your census to make sure people know where you are and who you are. The next thing is to exercise your political bully power and go into to political elections, and beating up the politicians that you don't like. You got a prosecutor that sent your papa to jail and you know it was bulls***? Put a new prosecutor in there. Now is your election to do it. You want a different senator that's more aggressive, that pulls marijuana through? Now is the time to do that. But it is not time to burn down your own home." 

"We have to be better than this moment. We have to be better than burning down our own homes, because if we lose Atlanta, what else we got?" he added. "I want you to go home, I want you to talk to 10 of your friends, I want you guys to come up with real solutions. ... We don't need a dumb a** president repeating what segregationists said."

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