The recent police killings of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Philando Castile in Minnesota ignited superstar rappers The Game, Snoop Dogg and Problem to meet with the LAPD at their HQ in Los Angeles, California. The trio have started the H.U.N.T. (Hunt Us Not Today/Hate Us Not Today) movement and wanted to present this peaceful movement to the LAPD in person. Coincidently, when the hundreds of people joined the hip hop stars for their peaceful march to the LAPD headquarters they learned that new cadets were holding their graduation at the HQ, this allowed them to meet with Mayor Eric Garcetti, Police Commissioner Mathew Johnson and Chief of LAPD Charlie Beck who were all in attendance for the graduation. Following their round table discussion, Problem, The Game and Snoop Dogg joined the Mayor and LAPD for a press conference to address the peaceful demonstration.
I spoke to Problem about H.U.N.T., his personal experience with the police and how we can all get involved in helping to make a change.
What made you join with The Game and Snoop Dogg and form H.U.N.T.?
It was The Game that came up with the idea. Me and Snoop joined him because he had such a great idea and he spoke with such passion. It was exactly what LA needed because the meeting was the day after the Dallas shootings. It could of went really bad out here (Los Angeles). I really feel like the pictures that spawned from the meeting and everything else that came from it really deterred a lot of violence.
How receptive or responsive was the LAPD when you guys approached them about having a meeting regarding all the violence that is happening right now?
That was god’s work because our intention was to just go there and shake hands with the officers and start a dialog. But what happened was all the rookies were graduating that day so the Mayor was there, the Police Commissioner was there and the Chief was there. We walked up 400 people deep and we saw all these officers and were like, “whoa, did they know we were coming?”
But, the dialog began and they reached out their hand and asked us to discuss things behind closed doors. Shout out to Eric Garcetti and Chief Beck for extending that branch and allowing us to try and find a solution to all of this together.
As a black man from Compton, California—what has your experience been like with cops and law enforcement?
We were taught in my neighborhood to be afraid of the police. We were afraid of the power that they had. They would come through Compton and bump up people that had no reason to be bumped up, which means they were checking for guns and drugs. I would tell these cops maybe you shouldn’t be an officer. It’s not about making an arrest. It’s about bringing the arrest numbers down. I think a lot of cops have lost sight of that.
A lot of people in America, mostly the ones that aren’t from inner cities, don’t think police brutality or police violence is a problem. How do you reach those people? How do you get them to understand the reality you have faced and the reality others are facing in places like Compton?
You can’t understand the problem unless it happens to you. The unfortunate killings of those five officers in Dallas shed light on what the Black and Latino experience is like in the neighborhoods. Senseless killings for no reason, they got a chance to see what it felt like. It makes you sour. It makes you nervous. I looked Chief Beck in the eyes and he was almost crying talking about Dallas. He has three kids that are officers and that could have been his child out there getting shot over something that had nothing to do with them. They weren’t the cops from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. They weren’t the cops from Minnesota. They saw people on their side getting innocently taken. They understood more why we are so angry. They had one day of that. This has been going on for four hundred years for us.
There are a lot of people out there that want to help and make a difference but don’t know how. What kind of advice do you have for those people? How should they get involved?
The fact that you want to help is already making a difference. By Hashtagging the problem, by Tweeting the problem, by Facebooking the problem, by talking to your peers, by joining H.U.N.T. or Black Lives Matter—just by doing something makes you part of the solution.
When it comes to the Black Lives Matter movement, a lot of people don’t seem to really understand it. There are a lot of people that refute the movement and say things like, “all lives matter.” How do you respond to people who don’t understand the message behind Black Lives Matter?
If you aren’t Black you don’t understand it. You don’t understand what it’s like to be a Black man or woman in this world if you aren’t Black. It’s not Black Lives Matter and White lives don’t. That’s not the slogan. Black and Latino lives are being taken the most. There are no Black cops that accidently shot White people. There are no Latino cops that accidently shot White people. All these accidents keep happening the other way around. It ain’t rocket science.
Police brutality has always been an issue in the inner city but it seems like we are hearing about it a lot more now. Is the problem getting worse? Or, have cell phones and technology just made the problem more visible?
This has been going on forever. The N.W.A. movie showed us going through the same exact thing twenty-five years ago with no internet and cell phones. This is not a new thing but now it’s televised. A lot more people that aren’t racist are standing up for us. It’s not just a Black and Latino thing anymore—it’s a people thing now. White people are seeing this stuff and saying, “why are they doing this to you guys?”