Local rap video concerns law enforcement

CAMBRIDGE – A rap video filmed in Cambridge entitled “Shockavelli feat Kuttah, Afnt Tre thats what it is” produced and directed by a man also known as Chambers Maryland, who lives in Baltimore and who is a 2005 graduate from Cambridge-South Dorchester High School, has drawn the attention of local law enforcement and the Dorchester County Board of Education who are concerned over a phrase that is about 2 minutes and 26 seconds into the video that could be construed as a threat against the Principal of CSD High School.
Chambers Maryland published the video on a YouTube website on October 17 and on his Facebook page on October 29, 2014 with the message, “These are my young dudes.” His Facebook page states that he is a hip hop producer, artist, designer and director.

WBOC-TV broadcast footage of Shyheim White, also known as Shockavelli, who appears in the video but who claimed that he did not write the lyrics which constitute a perceived threat to high school principal Bromwell. There is a video entitled, “Shockavelli laughs while seeing himself on WBOC news” published on YouTube on October 7, 2014 with a message, “AFNF Schokavilli, 600 Greenwood Ave. Easternshore Movement.” The MD Judiciary Case Search website lists Shyheim Lamar White (d.o.b. May 17, 1994) residing at 713 Cornish Drive, as being an active defendant in Circuit Court for Dorchester County criminal case no. 09-K-14015419. White is facing charges of possession of a controlled dangerous substance with intent to distribute, possession of marijuana, disorderly conduct, and obstructing and hindering a police officer, which occurred on July 29, 2014. White was released on a $20,000 bond on July 29, 2014. The Office of the State’s Attorney filed its criminal information with the Circuit Court in the above referenced case on October 10 and a scheduling conference is scheduled on November 10, 2014. On August 6, 2014, a final peace order against Shyheim White was entered in the District Court ordering White not to abuse, contact or enter the residence of, and stay away from a temporary residence of a complainant.

One of the major cases next year in the U.S. Supreme Court is about the First Amendment, free speech and Facebook, and the Justices’ decision could hinge on their understanding and interpretation of what constitutes rap music lyrics. Elonis v. United States is an upcoming case before the Supreme Court on whether conviction of threatening another person over interstate lines (under 18 U.S.C. § 875(c)) requires proof of subjective intent to threaten, or whether it is enough to show that a “reasonable person” would regard the statement as threatening.

In controversy is the fact the purported threats consist of violent rap lyrics written by Elonis and posted to Facebook under a pseudonym. The ACLU filed an amicus brief in support of the petitioner. Anthony Elonis was sentenced to 44 months in prison by a Pennsylvania District Court for threatening his estranged wife and others based on several rap lyrics he posted to Facebook. One count Elonis was convicted of involves a post reading: “Did you know that it’s illegal for me to say I want to kill my wife? It’s illegal. It’s indirect criminal contempt. It’s one of the only sentences that I’m not allowed to say. Now it was okay for me to say it right then because I was just telling you that it’s illegal for me to say I want to kill my wife.” This post was a parody of a Whitest Kids You Know sketch, in which the actor says it’s against the law to say they want to kill the President. Elonis ended the post with the statement, “Art is about pushing limits. I’m willing to go to jail for my constitutional rights. Are you?”

Cambridge’s “hip hop” community is being promoted on the internet and promoters are increasing their influence and outreach in Dorchester County. An example being seen in a “Feed the Community” event by the Cambridge chapter of the Dangerouz Divaz Social Community who advertised that the Ladies of Dangerouz Divaz Social Community would be sponsoring a free lunch at the open lot located at the corner of Greenwood Ave. and Cosby Ave. on September 27, 2014. The hip hop community falls within the zone of influence of a “gangsta rap” culture that is promoting and celebrating Cambridge as a gangsta culture venue. On October 1, 2014, a YouTube video was posted by @Beach Bumz and @Blocka which promotes their film “In Da Field: Cambridge, MD” with the message, “A closer look at up and coming artists from a small city with big dreams.” The film is to be released in January 2015, and features Shockavelli, AFNF, Grizzy Da Grinder, Tev Grind Daily, Stiddy Gang and other artists.

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