Rapper and civil rights activist Killer Mike made an emotional plea urging participants in violent protests across Atlanta “not to burn your own house down,” in response to the police killing of George Floyd.
Mike, who is half of hip-hop group Run The Jewels, made the tearful address alongside Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and rapper T.I. in a press conference addressing the Georgia city Friday night.
While he said that he was “tired of seeing Black men die” and that he understood the demonstrators’ anger, he pleaded with them not to destroy the city and to focus their rage on other forms of peaceful protest.
“I watched a white officer assassinate a Black man, and I know that tore your heart out, and I know that’s crippling…” he said, later referencing peaceful demonstrations of Martin Luther King, who was also from Atlanta, Ga.
“So I am duty-bound to be here to simply say that it is your duty not to burn your own house down for anger with the enemy. It is your duty to fortify your own house, so that you may be a house of refuge in times of organization, and now is the time to plot, plan, strategize, organize and mobilize.”
On Friday night, widespread protests broke out across the United States spurred by the demonstrations in Minneapolis over the killing of Floyd — an unarmed Black man — at the hands of a white police officer.
That officer, Derek Chauvin, has since been charged with murder after cellphone footage taken by a bystander showed him pinning Floyd to the ground with his knee.
Chauvin, who was fired from the Minneapolis Police Department on Tuesday with three other officers, had his knee on Floyd’s neck for about 8 minutes and 46 seconds according to court documents.
Atlanta was among a handful of cities — which included Dallas, Detroit, Houston, New York, Chicago and Los Angeles — that erupted in protests over Floyd’s death, as well as several other instances of police brutality against Black Americans.
Several bystanders have also been caught in the crossfire of the protests that are primarily focused on police abuse and racial injustice in America
Businesses and stores were subject to looting and burning, alongside damage to police property across the country.
On Saturday, Georgia’s governor declared a state of emergency to bring in the state’s National Guard over flares of violence in Atlanta.
“I’m mad as hell. I woke up wanting to see the world burn yesterday, because I’m tired of seeing Black men die,” said Killer Mike, whose real name is Michael Santiago Render.
“He casually put his knee on a human being’s neck for nine minutes as he died like a zebra in the clutch of a lion’s jaw.”
The rapper said their responsibility was “to make this better,” calling for all four of the white officers involved in Floyd’s death to be charged.
“We do not want to see targets burning, we want to see the system that sets up for systemic racism, burned to the ground.”
“It is time to beat up prosecutors you don’t like at the voting booth, it is time to hold mayoral offices accountable, chiefs and deputy chiefs,” he said. “Atlanta is not perfect, but we’re a lot better than we ever were and we’re a lot better than cities are.”
Several celebrities including sports stars LeBron James and Shannon Sharpe, as well as actress Olivia Wilde have also quoted Killer Mike’s speech on social media.
“MANDATORY LISTEN!!!! @KillerMike always on point! So passionate and smart(knowledgeable) as hell!!” tweeted James.
“Plot, Plan, Strategize, Organize, Mobilize,” tweeted Wilde.
“Killer Mike gave it to us real,” wrote Sharpe.
— With files from the Associated Press