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Brother Ali arrested in Minneapolis, 2012/06/21.
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Mark in Minnesota



Joined: 02 Jan 2004
Posts: 1993
Location: Saint Louis Park, MN
Brother Ali arrested in Minneapolis, 2012/06/21.  Reply with quote  

http://www.bizjournals.com/twincities/news/2012/06/22/brother-ale-arrested-at-occupy.html

I was reading in the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal feed this evening and saw the following article indicating that Brother Ali was part of a group that was arrested in Minneapolis this last Wednesday for an act of civil disobedience as part of a "Occupy Homes MN" protest of a foreclosure/eviction of a South Minneapolis family from their home:

Quote:

PNC Financial Services Group Inc. in Pittsburgh is getting heat from the Occupy movement — and from a Minneapolis hip hop artist — for trying to foreclose on a Twin Cities family's home.

The South Minneapolis home where the Cruz family lives went into foreclosure in 2011 when Pittsburgh-based PNC Bank allegedly mishandled an online payment, according to Occupy protesters.

On Thursday, members of the Occupy Pittsburgh movement and members of the Cruz family gathered to march to the corporate headquarters of PNC (NYSE: PNC).

Occupy Homes MN also held a rally at the house in Minneapolis Thursday. Brother Ali, a Twin Cities hip hop artist, was one of the protesters arrested. He was arrested on charges of trespassing and refusing to depart and processed at the Hennepin County Jail, CBS Minnesota News reported. The $50 bail was posted four hours later.

Brother Ali, 34, whose real name is Ali Douglas Newman, tweeted on Friday: "Just got home from jail. 13 of us arrested showing solidarity with the Cruz family Occupy Homes worldwide. The struggle continues."

Brother Ali is signed to Twin Cities-based Rhymesayers Entertainment and has released four studio albums. His latest release, labeled "Us," reached No. 14 on Billboard's rap album's charts.

The Occupy Homes MN movement has been working with the Cruz family since end of April, staging protests to prevent authorities from evicting the home. Rallies are also planned in other cities across the nation. Occupy Homes MN is currently in negotiations with PNC Bank about a possible deal for the Cruz Family.

Brother Ali has a new album coming out in August, Mourning in America and Dreaming in Color. He's been participating actively in the Occupy Homes MN movement for a while now, using his public notoriety to bring attention to particular cases the movement is protesting via his website and through social media like Twitter, but this is the first time I've seen word of him getting arrested as part of a protest.

Starting from the tweet quoted above, some things Brother Ali said about the situation:

Quote:

Just got home from jail. 13 of us arrested showing solidarity with the Cruz family and Occupy Homes worldwide. The struggle continues. (Twitter, 12:39AM, Jun 22nd.)

@TheCurrent @LocalCurrent Can I call in? (Twitter, 8:21 AM, June 22nd, in reply to a tweet from local radio station 89.3 The Current reporting on his arrest.)

Had a great chat this morning with Andrea Swenson @LocalCurrent about yesterday's protest/arrests @TheCurrent will air some of it at 1pm (Twitter, 11:29AM, June 22nd. The interview transcript can be read here.)

Please do some research and read up on the Cruz family and how PNC bank had treated them. (Twitter, 11:36AM, June 22nd.)

This is a national and global epidemic. Millions of hardworking families didn't just DECIDE to loose their homes and slide into poverty. (Twitter, 11:37AM, June 22nd.)

The banks are destroying our society on so many levels and the increase of foreclosures is one of the most blatant examples. (Twitter, 11:39AM, June 22nd.)

Banks intentionally made bad loans, sold them to investors knowing they'd fall apart, bet against them and made trillions. (Twitter, 11:40AM, June 22nd.)

Now they're sending our police force to pull hard working families out of their homes. People who WANT to pay their mortgages. (Twitter, 11:42AM, June 22nd.)

Shout out to my new friend Joe. Middle aged white school teacher who went to jail defending the Cruz family's home. (Twitter, 11:48AM, June 22nd.)

This isn't a movement I started or organized but it touches and excites me so much that I joined it. (Twitter, 11:57AM, June 22nd.)

Families are winning. Banks are having to renegotiate a solution to keep families in their homes and PAYING their mortgages. (Twitter, 11:59AM, June 22nd.)

Wednesday night's demonstration was in direct support of the Cruz family. Here's their story http://bit.ly/LC7zUf (Twitter, 11:36AM, June 23rd.)

So, what do you all think? Some questions I have about this whole thing, as someone who was not very familiar with Occupy Homes MN or the Cruz family's situation, but as someone who supports Brother Ali and wants to see him succeed and also supports significantly more consumer-friendly behavior on behalf of banks:
    - I'm not clear from the coverage so far about the ultimate disposition of the charges against him. Should we expect them to be dropped, or will there be a court date? If the charges stick, is he likely to cop a plea or go to trial?

    - Were the arrests during this protest an abuse of power by Hennepin County police? Do they overshadow the personal crisis the Cruz family is dealing with or were they a smart tactical move by the arrested protesters to serve to shed needed light on the situation?

    - Will this arrest (and/or any subsequent charges) make it easier or harder for him to market his new music? Ultimately, will this arrest have an impact on his career, positive or negative? Was letting his participation in the protest escalate to an arrest a responsible decision or an irresponsible one?

    - Is the timing of Brother Ali's arrest suspect given the approaching release date for his next album? Should fans of his consider this to be a publicity stunt or dismiss it as a coincidence?

    - Ali was arrested while wearing a T-shirt advertising labelmate I Self Devine's new album The Sound Of Low Class Amerika, released on May 8th. The album has a lot of songs calling attention to these same sorts of injustices. Was Ali's choice of clothing a conscious attempt to raise awareness of the album or just a coincidence?

    - Given the potential commercial value of the publicity to Brother Ali and his record label surrounding an arrest at this particular time, should Occupy Homes MN protesters object to Brother Ali's continued participation in their movement? For that matter, should taxpayers be pressing Brother Ali or Rhymesayers Entertainment to recoup the county's costs in handling the arrest and subsequent charges? Should the answers to these questions vary based on whether we see the arrest as an intentional publicity stunt or simply unfortunate timing?

    - What do these choices have in common with, for example, Jay-Z producing "OCCUPY ALL STREETS" merchandise? What do they have in common with the Strange Famous Records "Film The Police" project and merchandise? In what ways are these choices of Brother Ali's distinct from that example?

    - To whatever extent the participants of the Occupy movement constitute a marketable demographic, is it appropriate to market to them under any circumstances/conditions? If we see Brother Ali's publicized arrest as a marketable publicity stunt, is that particular stunt an example of acceptable or unacceptable marketing? Put simply: should individuals who stand to profit from participation in Occupy protests be accepted as participants in the Occupy movement? Should "celebrity" arrests like this be applauded, or should they be booed offstage the same way some elected officials have been booed offstage when attempting to give speeches to the protesters?
I've attempted to make these reasonably earnest questions but I feel like I need to wonder whether or not I was coming from a place of entirely good faith in phrasing them the way I did. I think that Brother Ali's attempts to give air and light to this movement have been admirable, and that his actions over the preceding months have been quite selfless and have worked to the positive interests of my community. Even so, I feel like my personal response to this sort of thing is to feel good that a rapper I liked anyway is a better person than I needed him to be. I also think I probably care more about his involvement in his cause than I do about the cause itself. It's possible that asking these questions is my way of giving myself permission to keep liking his music without taking an interest in the Cruz family's case. It's a good cause but I'm a pretty lazy person in some ways. My thoughts about this foreclosure mess itself trend toward the idea that a group of people paying PNC to make things right with the Cruz family would be more efficient than those same people making public demands for PNC to make things right for free. I want the complaints to go away more than I want the overall situation to improve, even though I recognize on an intellectual level that the overall situation badly needs to improve and that maybe the Cruz family decided they'd rather be a test case than a charity case.

So, maybe I'm turning this into something more morally ambiguous than it needs to be because that's more fun than getting involved sounds like it would be. But after reading the article and having asked these questions for whatever reason I asked them, I'm now genuinely interested in thinking about (and discussing) their answers.

This is a nationally notable musician who got himself arrested within a week of his label releasing the first single from his upcoming album. More or less the first thing he did the morning after his arrest was ask a local radio station to interview him about it. He didn't mention the new album or the new single by name during the interview and I think he genuinely wants to use his notability to bring attention to injustices like this one. I think he should be applauded for those intentions and for whatever results his arrest gets for this cause. I also think that he's (perhaps deliberately, perhaps obliviously) walking a fine line between righteous and self-serving here. Is it all in the game as long as his arrest helps the Occupy Homes MN cause more than it hurts it? Or should there be more stark limits than that? If so, what are they?
Post Sat Jun 23, 2012 10:27 pm
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SFR announcement



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You sure do make it tough to respond by piling so many ideas and questions into one post, all while covering your tracks along the way. Haha. I feel like I need to prepare an essay as part of my response but I'd rather not. All I'd like to say is that I don't believe Ali's participation in this protest is disingenuous or part of a publicity scheme. Same with his subsequent arrest.
Post Sun Jun 24, 2012 1:09 pm
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Captiv8



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I don't know man. In my mind this is the natural culmination of Ali's increasingly political-mindedness. I think it's wrong to suggest his actions are wholly self-interested or for the benefit of I Self Divine. I think Ali is a man that believes in the causes he associates himself with, and he probably feels some sort of obligation to his community. Frankly, I'd like to see more of this sort of thing. I don't think his career will be hurt by this at all, especially since it's a case of civil disobedience. It's not as if he's out on some bullshit committing crimes. The line of thinking in your questions worries me a little bit, though. I mean, if B. Dolan was arrested in Minnesota for supporting CeCe would you have asked if it was to support the new House of Bees record, SFR, or anything else along those lines? Was Jared Paul just trying to earn street cred for Prayers for Atheists?
Post Sun Jun 24, 2012 2:48 pm
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b. dolan
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My short answer is "it wasn't for PR, but even if it was, who gives a shit?"

If Kanye got arrested at an Occupy protest tomorrow, had no political history ever, and dropped an album the next day ... I would be glad for his involvement and not begrudge him. People are allowed to pursue their self-preservation/interest and social justice at the same time. In fact, that might be the best way to do it. ("I can't help the poor if I'm one of them.")

I try to be extremely accountable for my art and actions, but there's no way I have time to get involved w/ that post or this discussion I'm afraid. Call me lazy and irresponsible. Call me totally overloaded with emails. No disrespect to anyone, but it's just a practical matter of time and effort that has to be directed elsewhere.

/cops out
Post Sun Jun 24, 2012 3:29 pm
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b. dolan
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Re: Brother Ali arrested in Minneapolis, 2012/06/21.  Reply with quote  

I lied. I had time to read it.

Mark in Minnesota wrote:

So, maybe I'm turning this into something more morally ambiguous than it needs to be because that's more fun than getting involved sounds like it would be.


Gross.
Post Sun Jun 24, 2012 3:41 pm
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Brynjar



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b. dolan wrote:
My short answer is "it wasn't for PR, but even if it was, who gives a shit?"


Really?
Even if it's only for PR?

I know of 3 examples here in Iceland when someone was using protests as an advertising opportunity and all of them almost got a beatdown, rightfully so.
Post Sun Jun 24, 2012 3:52 pm
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SFR announcement



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Personally I find it distasteful when artists who could truly give a fuck about anything jump into the media limelight to represent a movement when it starts gaining momentum. I think that's easy to detect so it shouldn't be a problem, but it can actually hurt a movement if the publicity (which then reaches the periphery of the movement) gives off a general air fake-ness. That's my opinion on that. In this instance, it looks like Brother Ali actually helped raise awareness about this issue. I think he did that regardless of his impending album, but even if he was partially motivated by self-promotion, he did more to help the movement than hurt it.
Post Sun Jun 24, 2012 4:01 pm
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Mark in Minnesota



Joined: 02 Jan 2004
Posts: 1993
Location: Saint Louis Park, MN
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I tend to agree with that last point that he has done more to help the movement than to harm it. Brother Ali has been involved with Occupy Homes Minnesota for months now and his participation had definitely been helping to bring both awareness perhaps even credibility to the cause.

More tweets from Ali on the topic:

Quote:

I appreciate all the love and support for my little involvement in Occupy Homes. The real heros are the families who lead the charge.

People like The Cruz family, Monique White and Bobby Hull open their homes and lives to allow the community to come together.

The real workers like Anthony Newby, Nick Espinosa, Ben Sherman. They're living and breathing this day in and day out. Providing a platform.

The soldiers who chained themselves to the Cruz home in the middle of the night while I was in Europe. Those are the heros I'm supporting.

I'm an inspired dude joining their movement, and if you're inspired too, come on through. Let's make something happen together.

Ben Egerman. -Don't know why my phone changed it to Sherman. Ben Egerman is an incredible leader who I'm proud to know.

Twin Cities MCs /Poets like Guante,Sol, Mastermind have been working on the ground for years. I've been inspired by their commitment.

I guess what got me thinking about this was realizing that some of the arrests which happen as part of these protests are more or less planned and intentional actions on behalf of the protesters. I started looking for examples of that after the street video of Occupy Minneapolis protesters being arrested for lying down in the middle of a city intersection last fall, being surprised at how many opportunities the police gave the protesters to disperse and how open those people were in subsequent interviews about how they had wanted to be arrested because they believed that would make a useful point about whose side the police and city government were on.

Ali acknowledges in the tweets above that he only has skin in this game on a part-time basis, and it really does seem like his chief interest is in showing solidarity with that movement and encouraging other people to get involved the same way he did.

And yet... he wasn't the first person arrested for physically obstructing police forces trying to evict the Cruz family from their home; my understanding is that it had happened to more than a dozen people before him. He almost certainly knew he could be arrested that day, and he almost certainly had given some advance thought to how he would interact with the media in the arrest's aftermath if it happened. (In fact, that Andrea Swensson interview quotes him as saying: "In Minneapolis right there at the home, 13 of us made the decision to take the arrest.") Perhaps he had even discussed the situation with some of those same leaders he shouted out in subsequent tweets. The timing was almost certainly not lost on him--and in fact one might argue that with an album coming out his action has more positive impact on the movement than if he had kind of randomly done it the weekend after a tour had ended.

A longer quote from that same interview:

Quote:

So we're standing up for our communities, we are standing up for each other, we're standing up for our neighbors. It's a very grassroots thing. There's no big money coming from anywhere. Nobody has appropriated this. This movement isn't attached to any of the political parties. The thing about this is that these are common people organizing, working together, to bring that power of collective grassroots action.

This is the real thing. I’m not just going to jump in with anything because I don’t need to. I don’t have to. And honestly? I have difficulty traveling. My “Uncle Sam Goddamn” song -- I was contacted and had to register with the Department of Homeland Security. I’m monitored or at least have been at one point or another. You know, with the arrests -- and who know if there will be charges or not, we all go to court together in July -- but there’s a potential for this to put some strain and extra challenges for us to travel. Canada is really tough. We tour Europe and we tour Australia and we toured Asia. I traveled in the Middle East. So these are real sacrifices we’re making and I wouldn’t do this if I didn’t think that this is the type of action that we’ve been wanting to see.

It feels like marketing because on some strange level it actually is a form of marketing, and other than the choice of tactics it's no different than any celebrity becoming a spokesperson for some product or cause: the increase in brand recognition is essentially always going to be a two-way street.

The one-sheet for his new album has text explicitly discussing his past activism. Some text from that document:

Quote:

Mourning In America and Dreaming In Color finds Brother Ali reborn and rejuvenated. On his fourth full length studio album, Ali teams up with seasoned producer Jake One (50 Cent, De La Soul, T.I., Snoop Dogg, Wiz Khalifa) to tell a very different American story.

Fully recharged and inspired by his eye-opening first trip to Mecca, the 2011 uprisings in the Middle East, and the worldwide Occupy movements, Brother Ali is prepared to unveil Mourning In America and Dreaming In Color. Created during a prolific, self-imposed two-month exile in Seattle and helped by platinum-selling producer Jake One, the album represents a brave new phase in Brother Ali’s remarkable career trajectory. Mourning In America and Dreaming In Color presents a scathing, yet honest, critique of America and its many flaws while simultaneously presenting a hopeful outlook of its possibilities.

Mourning In America and Dreaming In Color, in all its sonic and lyrical glory, promises to be both the voice of a burgeoning new critical American consciousness as well as the beacon of hope for those that hold fast to its ideals and potential. This is Brother Ali as you've never heard him before.

Selling Points:
- Produced By Jake One (50 Cent, De La Soul, T.I., Snoop Dogg, Wiz Khalifa).
- Catalog sales history over 200,000 units.
- Organizer and promoter for the national event "Day Of Dignity."
- Custom CD Packaging includes a huge 80 panel fold out poster with original painted US flag artwork as well as lyrics.
-Special splatter style multi-color double vinyl is housed in a full color jacket which also includes a huge fold out US flag poster and free digital download card.

The activism is a part of his marketing, at least to some extent. On the one hand he's saying that nobody has appropriated this movement. On the other hand his own record label's marketing material for the album shows that they want retailers and distributors to be conscious of the relationship between Brother Ali's music and Brother Ali's activism--and that they anticipate the album being seen as an inherently political work.

I definitely don't intend to suggest that I think this Occupy Homes MN work has been a strictly commercial decision for him: my assumption is that as he's become more widely known he's been looking for ways to use that success to do good in the world. But I do legitimately wonder how calculated these kinds of moves really are. There's certainly a distinction to be made between someone who is not being disingenuous and someone who is being artless. Like I said before, I think Brother Ali is walking a fine line right now.

EDIT: Removed four paragraphs that I think were widely off-topic.
Post Sun Jun 24, 2012 6:15 pm
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Limbs



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SFR announcement wrote:
Personally I find it distasteful when artists who could truly give a fuck about anything jump into the media limelight to represent a movement when it starts gaining momentum. I think that's easy to detect so it shouldn't be a problem, but it can actually hurt a movement if the publicity (which then reaches the periphery of the movement) gives off a general air fake-ness. That's my opinion on that. In this instance, it looks like Brother Ali actually helped raise awareness about this issue. I think he did that regardless of his impending album, but even if he was partially motivated by self-promotion, he did more to help the movement than hurt it.


I wish I talked good cuz I woulda said dat.
Post Sun Jun 24, 2012 8:51 pm
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TommyFox



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Props to Ali for standing up for what he believes in. If it is for self-publicity, I'd rather see something like this than an album on WB.
Post Sun Jun 24, 2012 11:08 pm
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sarah q



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Mark in Minnesota wrote:
On the one hand he's saying that nobody has appropriated this movement. On the other hand his own record label's marketing material for the album shows that they want retailers and distributors to be conscious of the relationship between Brother Ali's music and Brother Ali's activism--and that they anticipate the album being seen as an inherently political work.


I'm not really sure that this proves or even really suggests anything. It kind of just sounds like his label seems to be conscious or aware of his work becoming more political.
Post Mon Jun 25, 2012 7:33 am
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anomaly
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I'm having a hard time finding what the actual "glitch" in the online payment system was. I'm assuming payment(s) were lost, but how exactly? You'd think there would be a paper trail showing proof of payment if there in fact was one.
Post Mon Jun 25, 2012 8:00 am
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Jesse



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You can't separate this kind of demonstration-based activism from "PR." There's no need to break it down - it IS brand-building. I think it shows some humility to take on an existing cause rather than start a new movement or foundation when you're a personality with some popular clout, but even if that weren't the case... Brother Ali has an agenda as an artist and a political activist, and they're not separate. Each feeds the other, because both require an expanse of notoriety to flourish. If it makes him better known in some circles to have made a cause better known in others, then next time he tries to address something that matters, he has more eyes and ears.

The idea that someone taking part in an awareness-raising action may be just looking for attention is actually a pretty weird grounds for criticism.

And if the I Self Divine record addresses similar themes and promotes similar values, then any notoriety which is conferred to it by these actions also furthers the common agenda of awareness-raising.

Whether the artist/activist's deepest motivations are altruistic or self-serving only really matters if you're more concerned with judging that person's soul than the impact of their action on others. Which most people are! But like, that's terrible!
Post Mon Jun 25, 2012 1:07 pm
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jakethesnake
guy who cried about wrestling being real


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There's nothing wrong with questioning motives in a case like this. Especially if they are asking for money. See: Wyclef Jean. You could be paying for someone's mistress-masquerading-as-a-vice-president. It's not all cut and dry like "but it's a good idea so lets support it".

(not comparing the two, Brother Ali seems legit from what I've read)
Post Mon Jun 25, 2012 1:51 pm
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Mark in Minnesota



Joined: 02 Jan 2004
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Location: Saint Louis Park, MN
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I sort of want to go back to my original questions:
- I'm not clear from the coverage so far about the ultimate disposition of the charges against him. Should we expect them to be dropped, or will there be a court date? If the charges stick, is he likely to cop a plea or go to trial?

I don't think either side is going to talk about that until July.

- Were the arrests during this protest an abuse of power by Hennepin County police? Do they overshadow the personal crisis the Cruz family is dealing with or were they a smart tactical move by the arrested protesters to serve to shed needed light on the situation?

I don't think they were an abuse of power; rather, I think the protesters expected to be arrested and felt that if it happened the result would be a potent image of Minneapolis police protecting an out-of-state bank at the expense of a poor family. Whether Brother Ali's involvement has overshadowed the Cruz family situation or merely called needed attention to it remains to be seen, but I suspect the net benefit to the family is positive.

- Will this arrest (and/or any subsequent charges) make it easier or harder for him to market his new music? Ultimately, will this arrest have an impact on his career, positive or negative?

In his own interview he suggests that it could impact his ability to tour and that this would simply be a continuation of the negative consequences he already had from politicizing his music with Uncle Sam Goddamn. I personally don't think it will have much impact on his album sales one way or another but I do think that could potentially put him on a more solid foundation with retailers and tour sponsors, both by raising his national profile and by casting his overall brand in a more positive, populist light.

- Was letting his participation in the protest escalate to an arrest a responsible decision or an irresponsible one?

It was a responsible decision and reaction has been almost universally positive.

- Is the timing of Brother Ali's arrest suspect given the approaching release date for his next album? Should fans of his consider this to be a publicity stunt or dismiss it as a coincidence?

Most of the discussion in the thread has focused on this question and the consensus has been to dismiss the answer as a non-issue. I don't think this was a publicity stunt but neither do I think the timing was a coincidence; I think he made a sincere statement with the arrest at a time when it probably made very good business sense to be publicly seen making a sincere statement.

- Ali was arrested while wearing a T-shirt advertising labelmate I Self Devine's new album The Sound Of Low Class Amerika, released on May 8th. The album has a lot of songs calling attention to these same sorts of injustices. Was Ali's choice of clothing a conscious attempt to raise awareness of the album or just a coincidence?

I think he probably picked that shirt out knowing that he was going to be photographed and filmed wearing it. The consensus in the thread has been that there isn't anything wrong with that kind of decision and I tend to agree.

- Given the potential commercial value of the publicity to Brother Ali and his record label surrounding an arrest at this particular time, should Occupy Homes MN protesters object to Brother Ali's continued participation in their movement?

I think the Occupy Homes Minnesota protesters have been very clear that they see this participation as being good for their cause, and that because it's a net positive for them the discussion can probably end there. Synergy of this kind isn't an inherently bad thing.

- For that matter, should taxpayers be pressing Brother Ali or Rhymesayers Entertainment to recoup the county's costs in handling the arrest and subsequent charges? Should the answers to these questions vary based on whether we see the arrest as an intentional publicity stunt or simply unfortunate timing?

This was sort of a key question from my perspective, because I have some real internal conflict over whether or not it's Okay and Cool to provoke the police into arresting you as a means of political speech. My sense is that those people who laid down in that Minneapolis intersection last year were assholes with a good cause, and that the people who were arrested trying to prevent a family's home from being seized did a comparatively beautiful thing--but at some point there's still the relatively sterile issue of these people intentionally breaking the law because they wanted to make a point by being arrested.

Whether or not Brother Ali engaged in a publicity stunt to benefit his album sales, Occupy Homes MN engaged in a publicity stunt to benefit their cause; those protesters could all reasonably be expected to pay some fines and court costs in association with their arrest--or just as reasonably be expected to be let off without charge and Minneapolis just treating this as a cost of having a police force in the first place. Brother Ali should get the same treatment as the other twelve people who were arrested that day, regardless of whether the calculus of personal branding gave him more "benefit" from being arrested than it gave his peer protesters.

The "fun" question (for certain 'gross' values of fun) is whether, if Ali does have to pay a fine for this, he or Rhymesayers would attempt to deduct it from their taxes as a business expense. :-)

- What do these choices have in common with, for example, Jay-Z producing "OCCUPY ALL STREETS" merchandise? What do they have in common with the Strange Famous Records "Film The Police" project and merchandise? In what ways are these choices of Brother Ali's distinct from that example?

I'm not sure I'm prepared to answer at length about commonalities and distinctions here, but I will note that Brother Ali put skin in the game as a protester in a way that goes above and beyond pointing skin in the game as an artist or producer of branded merchandise--and I have noted that Brother Ali both stands (and probably expects) to profit personally from the press surrounding his protest activities. This isn't an inherently bad thing, as long as we acknowledge that it's going on rather than try to pretend it isn't happening.

- To whatever extent the participants of the Occupy movement constitute a marketable demographic, is it appropriate to market to them under any circumstances/conditions?

Sure, why not?

- If we see Brother Ali's publicized arrest as a marketable publicity stunt, is that particular stunt an example of acceptable or unacceptable marketing?

It's acceptable, and even admirable.

- Put simply: should individuals who stand to profit from participation in Occupy protests be accepted as participants in the Occupy movement? Should "celebrity" arrests like this be applauded, or should they be booed offstage the same way some elected officials have been booed offstage when attempting to give speeches to the protesters?
... and:
- Is it [this convergence of commercial and sociopolitical interests] all in the game as long as his arrest helps the Occupy Homes MN cause more than it hurts it? Or should there be more stark limits than that? If so, what are they?

My take is that if there is a sense that these celebrity actions will have a net benefit to the movement they should be allowed and encouraged by the participants. "Net benefit" can encode some fairly complex variables to do with underlying values like "perceived authenticity" -- something that Brother Ali has by the truckload.

That said, my take is a rather strictly pragmatic one, and I've often ended up on one extreme of an argument for being overly pragmatic and not concerned enough with more intangible concerns. This last question is the one where I've been the most interested in hearing a response from other participants in the forum--particularly the ones who are more experienced in direct action protests of this kind than I am. I'm sort of curious how much ends-justifies-the-means mentality I'll see from a group of people who have been, e.g., historically willing to withhold votes from mainstream candidates in Presidential elections.
Post Mon Jun 25, 2012 2:16 pm
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