T.I. Gets Arrested-This May be deeper Than You Thinkby Davey D & Troy Nkrumah
As I mentioned earlier, we’ve had some disturbing news within Hip Hop. Most notably is the arrest of T.I. Just hours before he was supposed to appear at the BET Hip Hop Awards in Atlanta he got swooped up by the feds who accused him of trying to purchase three machine guns and two silencers as a convicted felon. I got a chance to look at the affidavit leading up to his arrest and it read like something out of made for TV crime drama. From reading it, it seems like T.I. was under the microscope from jump and that he walked right up into a set up. How could dude let this happen on his watch when he has been on a roll with so much about to open up for him?T.I. in recent days is set to be featured in the upcoming movie ‘American Gangsta‘ starring Denzel Washington. He’s been playing prominent roles in these last few award shows. He was recently featured on the Hip Hop vs. America panels put on by BET where he represented his viewpoints quite eloquently. Behind the scenes, T.I. played a big role in the relief efforts for Hurricane Katrina, where he provided money and manpower from his construction company. People who know T.I. have long spoke about him being a cat that has some keen political awareness which wasn’t always reflected in his music, but as he was starting to become more situated in this music industry, the word was that we were going to start hearing T.I. step up and speak out more to address key issues.
This arrest was no doubt not only a big set back for him, but for Hip Hop in general. With T.I. being one of the best and brightest as far what the mainstream presents, his arrest will fuel further speculation and attacks on Hip Hop and its audience. His arrest gets couched in the same vein and used as fodder when we hear people launch attacks and try and be dismissive of the questionable circumstances around Jena 6 defendants like Mychael Bell who was sent back to jail for previous probation violation, the same week T.I. was arrested.
His arrest like it or not overshadows the outrageous hate filled on air commentary from Fox News anchor John Gibson who blamed Hip Hop and Black people for the recent school shooting at an alternative high school in Cleveland, Ohio. Initially he thought the alternative school was one for delinquents and had no idea that it was a school for academically gifted youth. He saw Black faces and just assumed. Next he naturally assumed the shooter was Black and instead of showing some sort of contrition when he discovered the shooter was a white boy who listened to Marilyn Manson, he still tired to blame it on Hip Hop by making rascist comments like ‘the minute I heard the kid shot himself I knew it wasn’t your classic hip hop shooting, because they don’t kill themselves. They shoot and walk away’.
You can hear this madness HERE:
The T.I. arrest no doubt solidifies his position. Before Gibson could seriously be taken to task for his slanderous remarks, we got bombarded with news of the T.I. arrest.T.I.’s arrest along with the off color behavior widely reported about other rap stars including recent scenarios involving Foxy Brown and Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs sadly helps fortify a climate in which paints all of us in a bad light. In other words gone are the days where we could look and say ‘We are Young Gifted and Black’. Instead we get seen as ‘Thugged out and Criminal’. No I’m not blaming T.I. for all our ills, but like it or not him being in the limelight and being dragged off that perch impacts us all.
We caught up with long time activist and lawyer Troy Nkrumah of the National Hip Hop Political Convention. Here’s his astute breakdown of what is going on with T.I.
Although it is still premature to jump out with accusations of COINTELPRO, or in this case RAPINTELPRO, there are a few things that we must keep in perspective regarding this incident with Clifford Harris also known as the rapper/actor/entrepreneur T.I.Having read the Affidavit, the testimonies and reports seem to adequately meet the standards for Probable Cause which in a case like this is required to begin an investigation. That’s if everything in the report is accurate, which there is no way for us to tell at this point until we hear Harris’ side of the story. Nonetheless, there are a few things to keep in mind before we rush to judgement on either side.
1. The Affidavit cites that there is a Confidential Witness (CW) or what we might call a “Snitch“, or what the powers that be might call a “Whistle Blower“, and some other law enforcement agencies call a Confidential Informant (C.I.). Please note that these are all the same things, however the later 3 terms seem to have more negative connotations applied to them. The C.I. was once accepted by most law enforcement agencies but in an attempt to move away from the dozens and dozens of improper use of “informants” around the country, several law enforcement agencies are starting to use the term “witness.”
Witness is a legal term. It is being prematurely used at this point because T.I.’s Body Guard was being used as an Informant/Snitch and not as a witness. A witness to a crime is someone who; see’s, hears, or in some other manner has perceived an event first hand. Having participated directly or indirectly in a crime takes you out of being a witness to it and makes you a party or co-conspirator to that crime, or if you are working for or with law enforcement agencies in the crime then you are working as an “agent” or “informant/snitch”.
It is important to understand these terms because they are used to help convict individuals in the court of public opinion before they even make it to the criminal court.
2. The affidavit states that the Body Guard (or CW) has been working for Harris since July of this year. Personally I find that a little odd and out of the ordinary for someone of Harris’ stature, someone who could build a diverse portfolio of business interests such as he has, to allow someone that’s only been in his organization 2-3 months, to begin doing dirt for him like this. That’s just odd. It is either a sign of Harris’ ignorance and stupidity, or something a little more sinister on the part of the Feds. But we have to wait for more info before we can make that call.
3. Why is it that Harris was comfortable allowing the Body Guard to bring the prior weapons to his house, but then he was so quick to go pick these weapons up. It is hard to believe that Harris was actually going to get several large bags of weapons and put them in his car, then drive to the BET awards, or his Studio or his Home 15 miles away, and then back for the awards. Where ever he was going next, it just does not seem logical that he would carry this amount of weapons around with him all day. But again maybe he was that stupid.
4. A lot of people will say, “this is nothing like COINTELPRO” because the ATF are about regulating the sale of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. Well let me remind you, that although the FBI orchestrated the Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO), they didn’t directly arrest or have shootouts with the Black Panther Members or other movement organizers in the 60’s and 70’s. They left that work up to other agencies to carry out. Also, the ATF’s history is also a bit dirty with the Waco, Texas debacle back in the 90’s.
5. Also, let us not forget how earlier this year a report came out from the NYPD about surveillance on various Non-political hip hop artists and RnB artists during the Republican National Convention back in 2004. This is part of what we call Rapintelpro. Many popular artists are being followed, reported on and tracked for “political” reasons. That report sited the influence these artists would have if they started becoming political and started speaking on political issues. We are talking about people like, Jay Z, P-Diddy, Alicia Keys, just to name a few that were spied upon by the Rap Police. Another report came out of Miami a few years back showing the surveillance of other popular rappers.
6. Lastly, keep in mind that to date there are over 150 Political Prisoners/Prisoners of War still being held in the United States. I am not referring to people held around the issue of 9/11 or the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. but rather individuals who were targeted by COINTELPRO in the 60’s and 70’s. The SF8 is a group that has been re-arrested on some trumped up COINTELPRO inspired charges.
This is not to say that TI was on the same level of any of these freedom fighters that are now locked behind bars, but it is to point out that the government has a long history of setting up Black people and letting the setup go on and on for years before they have enough to take the persons life a way. Yes they use it on people that are threats to the status quo.. but which multi selling rapper is not a potential threat to the status quo?
All of these facts and others need to be kept in mind before we write TI off as another ignorant street rapper who was up to no good. Yes he might not be the brightest person to walk into something like this.. however, until we get all the facts, lets not accept the full truth of the incident based on the Feds Affidavit or the news reports. Those of you who are old enough will remember that a lot of folks thought Joan Chesimard aka Asaata Shakur was guilty after reading a few news reports and police accounts of the shootout. If you don’t know who Joan Chesimard is, well then you might be just as susceptible as TI was if an agent comes to you with some bright idea’s. Know your history or be destined to repeat it.
Below is the affidavit that describes the events leading up to T.I’s arrest
I, Jason S. Stricklin, being duly sworn depose and state the following:
1. Your affiant is currently employed as a Special Agent with the Bureau of Alcohol,Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) assigned to the Atlanta Field Division, Atlanta Group I, and has been so employed since 2005. Your affiant has received training from ATF in the registration, possession, and identification of machineguns and silencers.
Your affiant has conducted and participated in numerous investigations involving Federal firearms violations to include violations of Title 18 and Title 26 of the United States Code. Your affiant’s duties and responsibilities involve investigations of violations of Federal criminal laws and your affiant knows that it is a violation of Title 26, United States Code, Section 5861(d), for any person to receive or possess a firearm that is notregistered to him in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record. Your affiant also knows that it is a violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 922(g)for a person previously convicted of a felony to be in possession of a firearm.
2. This affidavit is being filed based on the personal knowledge and observations of the affiant and other law enforcement personnel, and interviews with witnesses, and reviews of government and business records, including records, reports, and information from the
ATF. This affidavit is intended to support probable cause but it is not intended to convey all the facts of the investigation.
3. On October 2, 2007, an employee of a Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL) contacted ATF with information regarding an individual who had been inquiring about purchasing a machine gun without registering the weapon as required by law. This individual, who is now a cooperating individual (hereinafter “CW”), was identified by the FFL by name and other identifying information. ATF Agents provided an undercover cellular phone number for the FFL to give to the CW, and told the FFL to tell the CW the number would contact a person with machine guns for sale. The aforementioned cellular telephone number returned to an ATF agent, acting in an undercover capacity (U/C Agent), posing as a “machine gun” seller/dealer. Within hours of receiving the cellular number, the CW telephoned the U/C and had a discussion about the firearms he (U/C) had available for sale. During the conversation, the CW asked if the firearms were “fully” automatic. The CW told the U/C that he was interested in purchasing the machine guns.
4. On October 10, 2007, the U/C contacted the CW and asked him if he was still interested in meeting to purchase the machine guns. the CW stated that he was and agreed to meet at a K-Mart Shopping Plaza located at 5997 Buford Highway, Doraville, Georgia. At approximately, 4:40 p.m., the CW arrived and met with the U/C to observe the firearms,which were actual machine guns. The CW had a further discussion about the firearms firing “fully” automatic. The CW agreed to exchange $2200 and a Bushmaster, Model C-15, .223 caliber pistol, s/n D10867 for the following firearms: an Ingram, Model M-10, 9mm caliber machine gun, s/n 2-3005561, an SWD Inc., 9mm silencer, s/n N767, a Military Armament Corp., 9mm silencer, s/n 2-2001231, a SWD Inc., Model M-11, 9mm caliber machine gun, s/n 86-0008212 and a H&K, Model SP89, 9mm caliber machine gun, s/n 21-17411.
5. During the meeting between the U/C and the CW, the CW questioned the U/C if he (the CW) would get into trouble if law enforcement caught him in possession of the machine guns. The U/C told the CW that the firearms were not legal to possess without the proper paperwork because they had to be registered. The U/C further told the CW there would be a problem if he were caught with them. The U/C told the CW that the aforementioned firearms did not have the required legal paperwork. The CW indicated that he understood and stated that he wanted to purchase the firearms anyway. The exchange of money and guns then took place. The firearms were not registered to the CW in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record, nor had the CW applied for the proper paperwork.
6. Following the transfer of the machine guns from the U/C to the CW, the CW was arrested. After his arrest, the CW agreed to speak with agents. During this and subsequent interviews with the CW, the CW told agents the following:
a. The CW stated that he was purchasing the machine guns on 10/12/07 on behalf of another person. The CW stated that he knew it was illegal for him to possess machine guns without properly registering them. The CW said he was buying the machine guns and silencers for CLIFFORD HARRIS, a/k/a “T.I.” for whom the CW had been working as a bodyguard since July of 2007. The CW admitted to straw purchasing approximately nine (9) firearms for HARRIS and approximately seventeen (17) additional firearms for individuals other than HARRIS. [Review of records of firearms purchases, ATF Forms 4473, has confirmed that the CW has purchased approximately 25 firearms over the last 18 months.] The CW said that HARRIS gave him cash to buy guns for HARRIS on four different occasions.
HARRIS is prohibited from purchasing firearms for himself because he has been convicted of a felony offense, so he asked the CW to purchase the firearms for him (HARRIS). [It is a violation of federal law for a prohibited person, such as a convicted felon, to have another person purchase or acquire firearms for the prohibited person.]
b. On 9/6/07, HARRIS gave the CW cash and asked the CW to buy a Calico 9mm caliber pistol. [The CW is not a convicted felon or otherwise prohibited from purchasing firearms.] The CW bought the pistol at The Gun Store, a federal firearms licensee (FFL), and gave the firearm to HARRIS at his home at 429 Creekview Lane, College Park, Georgia. The CW said that HARRIS resides at 429 Creekview Lane, College Park, Georgia. [Investigation of public records confirmed that 429 Creekview Lane, College Park, Georgia, is a residence associated with HARRIS. This address is within the Northern District of Georgia.] On the same date, when the delivery of the Calico 9mm pistol occurred, HARRIS invited the CW into his bedroom at the house and showed the
CW a safe in his (HARRIS’s) bedroom. The CW observed the safe inside a walkin closet in the bedroom. The safe was tall enough for a person to enter, and the CW witnessed HARRIS open the safe using a fingerprint- reading scanner type lock, and possibly a keypad as well. Inside the safe, the CW saw multiple short rifles. HARRIS showed the CW an assault-type rifle in a black bag inside the safe. HARRIS told the CW the weapon was a machine gun.
c. On 9/18/07, HARRIS gave the CW $1000 in cash and asked him to buy a Smith & Wesson .500 caliber revolver. An associate of HARRIS’s known as
“ALPHAOMEGA” followed the CW to The Gun Store. The CW purchased the revolver at The Gun Store and gave it to “ALPHAOMEGA” to give to HARRIS.
d. On or about 9/26/07, HARRIS called the CW and told him that he (HARRIS)wanted the CW to acquire more firearms for him. HARRIS specifically asked the CW to purchase a Smith & Wesson .460 caliber revolver for him. HARRIS gave $7000 in cash to an associate known as “C-ROD” to give to the CW. The CW went to The Gun Store and purchased 7 firearms, (3 rifles and 4 handguns),including the Smith & Wesson .460 caliber revolver. The CW delivered all 7 firearms to HARRIS at HARRIS’s house on Creekview Lane. After the CW brought the aforementioned 7 firearms to HARRIS’s house, HARRIS directed the CW to bring the guns to HARRIS’s bedroom. The CW gave HARRIS the firearms in HARRIS’s bedroom. The CW observed HARRIS handle the firearms.
[The purchases of firearms by the CW on 9/6/07, 9/18/07, and 9/26/07 were confirmed by ATF agents by reviewing ATF Forms 4473, obtained from The Gun Store.] The CW said that on 10/10/07, HARRIS arranged for the CW to pick up $12,000 in cash from HARRIS’s bank – the SunTrust Bank on Northside Parkway in Atlanta. HARRIS instructed the CW to meet with a specific bank employee to get the cash. The CW went to the bank, met with the bank employee, and was given the cash by that bank employee. HARRIS told the CW to use the funds to purchase machine guns for HARRIS. [Investigation has confirmed that there was a $12,000 cash withdrawal from HARRIS’s account at SunTrust Bank on 10/10/07. And when the CW was arrested later on that same date, 10/10/07, he was in possession of several thousand dollars in cash.]
7. .. being arrested and agreeing to cooperate, the CW agreed to make a consensually monitored phone call to HARRIS. At approximately 9:00 pm, after the CW had called HARRIS and left a message for HARRIS to call the CW, HARRIS’s primary bodyguard called the CW’s cell phone to discuss when the CW was going to be needed to
provide bodyguard services for HARRIS. During this conversation, HARRIS, using his bodyguard’s phone, began to converse with the CW. The CW told HARRIS that he, the CW, had “everything for you,” referring to the machine guns and silencers he had purchased on HARRIS’s behalf. HARRIS replied affirmatively.
8. On 10/12/07 the CW received a consensually monitored call from HARRIS. The CW asked HARRIS when he wanted to take delivery of what the CW had in his possession.
HARRIS requested immediate delivery. After the CW told HARRIS he was not available to deliver immediately, HARRIS told the CW he would take delivery Saturday, October 13, 2007. The CW told agents that he and HARRIS were referring to the firearms purchased by the CW for HARRIS on October 10, 2007.
9. Investigation has revealed that HARRIS is a convicted felon, and is prohibited from possessing firearms. On June 1, 1998, HARRIS was convicted of a Violation of the Georgia Controlled Substances Act in the Superior Court of Cobb County, and received a sentence of 7 years probation. HARRIS has additional arrests and at least one probation
violation for unlawfully possessing firearms.
10. A check of the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record showed that there is no record of any machine gun or silencer registered to HARRIS.
11. On October 13, 2007, at approximately 10:08 am the CW left a message for HARRIS to call. Between approximately 12:30-1:00 pm, HARRIS called the CW and asked the CW to bring the items to a (recording) studio. The CW suggested instead, as directed by ATF, that they meet at a shopping center parking lot on the corner of Piedmont Avenue and North Avenue in the city of Atlanta, in the Northern District of Georgia. HARRIS told the CW they could meet in about an hour.
12. At approximately 2:22 pm on October 13, 2007, HARRIS arrived at the pre-arranged meeting location. The meeting was consensually recorded. The CW entered the vehicle HARRIS was driving and displayed the silencers and machine guns to HARRIS. When the CW explained the function of one silencer, HARRIS said “no flash no bang.” When the CW showed HARRIS one of the machine guns, HARRIS asked the CW what the “E”
position on the selector switch signified. The CW explained that the “E” stood for semiautomatic function and that “you know what the “F” is for.” HARRIS acknowledged that he did. “F” stands for fully automatic function. HARRIS inquired about ammunition for the firearm, and asked about the capacity of the magazine. HARRIS asked the CW for “change leftover” from the $12,000 he provided the CW to purchase the firearms.
HARRIS was then arrested without incident.
13. A subsequent search located three firearms in the vehicle HARRIS was driving, including one loaded firearm tucked in between the driver’s seat and the center console.
14. At approximately 2:40 pm on October 13, 2007, a federal search warrant was executed at HARRIS’s house at 429 Creekview Lane, College Park, Georgia. In a walk-in closet in the bedroom identified as belonging to HARRIS, agents found a Colt model AR15 .223 caliber rifle, bearing serial number LE033297, a DPMS model AP4 .308 caliber rifle,
bearing serial number 14056, and a Calico model L3 9mm caliber pistol, bearing serial number B004397. Agents have confirmed each of the preceding three firearms were the same as those purchased by the CW for HARRIS on September 6, 2007 and September 26, 2007. Agents also found a Colt .44 magnum revolver, a CAI 7.62 x 39 caliber rifle,and a Bushmaster 5.56 caliber pistol in the same closet in the same bedroom. Some of the firearms were in the closet, and some were inside the closet inside the safe the CW previously described. Agents also found that five of the firearms were loaded.
15. Title 26, United States Code, Chapter 53 requires that machine guns and silencers be registered with the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record. Title 26, United States Code, Section 5845 defines the firearms to be registered according to this chapter, and included in section 5845(a)(6) a machine gun and section 5845(a)(7) any silencer.
Title 26, United States Code, Section 5861(d), makes it unlawful for any person “to receive or possess a firearm which is not registered to him in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record.” Title 18, United States Code, Section 922(g) makes it unlawful for any person who has been convicted of a felony offense to possess, in or affecting commerce, firearms.
16. All of the firearms recovered were manufactured in whole or part outside the State of Georgia, and, therefore, moved in or affected interstate commerce.
17. Based on the foregoing facts your affiant respectfully submits that probable cause exists to believe that CLIFFORD HARRIS has committed the offense of possession of unregistered machine guns and silencers, in violation of Title 26, United States Code, Section 5861(d); and of possessing firearms in or affecting interstate commerce, after having been convicted of a felony, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 922(g).