Gangsta rap's really got 'em roiled. Roiled enough to get arrested. A protest organized by the National Political Congress of Black Women yesterday targeted The Wiz record chain, claiming it was the area's largest purveyor of rap's "pornographic smut." The action ended with the leaders being taken away in handcuffs.
NPCBW's national chair, C. Delores Tucker, former D.C. Council member Nadine Winter, activist Dick Gregory and syndicated radio host Joe Madison stood arm in arm in front of the chain's downtown store, blocking its entrance, while perhaps a dozen fellow protesters circled the sidewalk with signs proclaiming "Dis Gangsta Rap," "New Year's Resolution: No Gangsta Rap" and "Gangsta Rap Is Rape."
"We want to bring attention to the fact this is an assault on black women," said Acie Byrd, who, like the majority of the protesters, is male. "We intend to take the profit out of musical pornography."
The violent attitudes and explicit lyrics of some rappers has earned them the "gangsta" title. "We want people to be educated," said Tucker, "Our slogan is: 'Is anyone listening? Your children are.' "
"Today is the winter solstice, the darkest day of the year," said Gregory. "I can't think of a better day to do this."
"We are trying to get every preacher to speak against this on Christmas," announced Winter. "This is not the thing for young people. ... We are tired of this, we are burying our young. And this is just the beginning of our protest."
Loudly competing with shouted slogans like "Our women are queens -- they're not 'hos, they're not bitches" were The Wiz's blaring outdoor speakers and construction noise from across F Street. Protesters took turns holding up a poster of the XXX-rated comic-book-style cover of gangsta rapper Snoop Doggy Dogg's new album, "Doggystyle."
The protesters' cause was not meeting with much sympathy from a number of Wiz customers and passersby, several of whom waved copies of rap CDs in the picketers' faces. One woman, 18-year-old Kelli Adams, insisted that she did not find gangsta rap lyrics degrading to women. "I don't think there's anything wrong" with Snoop Doggy Dogg, she said. "He's just speaking what's on his mind."
The protesters were soon outnumbered by a police presence that included four motorcycles and eight squad cars. A police line was set up around the front of the store while the four protest leaders, their arms linked at the entrance, calmly accepted their plastic handcuffs and were led away to a waiting police van. A fifth protester was also arrested. They were charged with blocking the sidewalk, and, according to a police spokesman, three of the four leaders were released last night after paying a $50 fine. Dick Gregory and the fifth protester, whose name was not released by police, refused to pay the fine and will be held until his arraignment today. Representatives of The Wiz, an East Coast chain based in New Jersey, did not return a reporter's phone calls yesterday.