On the night of Monday, June 1, young rapper and Ferguson frontliner T-Dubb-O was standing in front of his music studio and business, Audacity Music Group Studios, on 19th and Locust streets in downtown St. Louis.
Destruction was happening all around him, but he wasn’t worried that his business would be burglarized because the community knew him, he said. More so, he was trying to talk to some of the young teens, who might be making decisions out of anger and grief that could impact them for the rest of their lives.
Without warning, T-Dubb-O said about 20 to 30 city police officers rushed on the property with guns aimed, repeatedly yelling, “Get the [expletive] on the ground.” A video taken by one of T-Dubb-O’s white business partners shows them already on the ground while police are yelling this, and at one moment an officer taunts, “Somebody wants to die today.” The police officers proceeded to place the group of business owners in handcuffs and question them for 45 minutes.
T-Dubb-O sustained some injuries from the aggressive arrest, he said, but mostly he was angry.
“Don’t talk to me about good cops,” stated T-Dubb-O in a Facebook post about the incident. “Good cops stand by quietly as they let every other cop do this. While a baton is crammed into my leg because they are hoping I show a sign of pain so they can feel like men, the good cop is telling me to calm down and just talk to them.”
After the American’s inquiry into the incident, a police spokesperson said, “We have forwarded the video to our Internal Affairs Division.” The department did not respond with a comment about the incident by press time.
When police officers first stormed the property, they kept asking where the “guy with the rifle” was, the “one with the braids.” None of the business owners had a rifle on them. However, earlier in the day, T-Dubb-O had marched in the non-violent protest throughout the city with his four sons — with a rifle strapped to his back. T-Dubb-O was making a statement about open carry for white men who protested the stay-at-home orders nationwide versus black male protestors.
“They could have labeled us ‘extremists,’” he said. “If you are a black man with a gun, you’re automatically a threat and fit the bill of a terrorist.”
The only way the city police would have known about the rifle was if they had been following his Facebook page or were tracking him at the protest. While the officers didn’t say T-Dubb-O’s name, they knew who he was because his business is directly behind St. Louis Metropolitan Police headquarters’ building, he said.
The police’s questioning ranged from whether or not they were involved in shooting the four officers that night to drug possession. One of the officers whispered in his ear that they didn’t get him in Ferguson, but they’d get him now if he didn’t keep quiet, he said.
Then one of the black officers came over to mediate and talk about how he knew all about T-Dubb-O’s work with HandsUp United and youth mentoring.
After about an hour, the police left and begrudgingly gave back the group’s guns, which they all had legal permits for.
T-Dubb-O does not condone the violence that took place downtown, but he understands why it happened. This is not just a protest movement like it was in 2014, he said. It’s now become an uprising – and is being treated like one by authorities.
“It’s definitely more dangerous,” he said. “For me to say that, it says a lot. This is a more dangerous movement. There is a blatant disregard for people’s constitutional rights. They’re throwing out terrorism charges like it’s jaywalking.”
Before he spoke to The American on June 2, he was trying to help the mother of a 19-year-old black female protestor, who was arrested for her Facebook post that talked about joining the revolution and “come [expletive] this [expletive] up.” The mother told T-Dubb-O that her daughter doesn’t have a criminal record.
There was a teen that his group of business owners tried to talk to on Monday night, who told them that he wasn’t scared to die because police were going to kill them anyway, T-Dubb-O said.
These teens were children during the Ferguson unrest. For the past six years, they have watched as systemic racism became more oppressive while little has changed in the justice system, he said.
“This is the difference, this is the attitude,” he said. “This is six years later. It’s everything that the city has done wrong and how it’s failed these children.”