Rapper and activist Killer Mike, whose real name is Michael Render, delivered a powerful speech at Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms' Friday press conference amid the unrest following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis earlier in the week.
Render's speech was an emotional delivery, asking Atlanta residents not to vandalize the city and instead take political actions to make change.
"It is your duty not to burn your own house down for anger with an enemy. It is your duty to fortify your own house. So that you may be a house of refuge in times of organization, and now is the time to plot, plan, strategize, organize, and mobilize," he said. "It is time to beat up prosecutors you don't like at the voting booth. It is time to hold mayoral offices accountable -- chiefs and deputy chiefs.
He continued by expressing his anger and calling for the arrest of the officers responsible for Floyd's death. "I am mad as hell. I woke up wanting to see the world burn down yesterday, because I'm tired of seeing black men die. He casually put his knee on a human-being's neck for nine minutes, as he died like a zebra in the clutch of a lion's jaw, and we watch it like murder porn over and over again.
"So, that's why children are burning to the ground. They don't know what else to do, and it is the responsibility of us to make this better, right now. We don't want to see one officer charged. We want to see four officers prosecuted and sentenced. We don't want to see targets burning. We want to see the system that sets up for systemic racism, burned to the ground," he continued.
Later in his speech, Render offered inspirational words to the people of Atlanta. "My question for us on the other side of this camera is: after it burns will we be left with charred or will we rise like a phoenix out of the ashes that Atlanta has always done? Will we use this as a moment to say that we will not do what other cities have done and in fact, we will get better than we have been?" he asked.
In other parts of his speech, Render spoke about many of the great things about Atlanta, criticized CNN, advised people to make changes at the voting booth, and called for a community review board for the police department. Before giving thanks to the chief, mayor, and a friend who encouraged him to appear, he reiterated: "I love and respect you all. I hope that we find a way out of it cause I don't have the answers, but I do know we must plot. We must plan. We must strategize, organize and mobilize."
Render's publicist said that there would be no further comment at this time. "We continue to grapple with the weight of continued police killings of black Americans, and at this time we are not going to make further comment," the rapper's representative, Jennifer Farmer, told Newsweek.
In a press release following the death of Ahmaud Arbery, a black jogger who was shot and killed in Georgia in February, Render encouraged black Americans to exercise their second amendment rights.
"Black people in this country, please take full advantage of your Second Amendment rights. People of color, people who are not in the majority in this country, please take shooting, training, and the protection of your rights seriously. The police cannot always get to you on time, and the world is not a just place. Further, the police are sometimes in collusion with the perpetrators of your demise," Render said. He expressed the idea further in an op-ed for Color Lines.
Killer Mike released his debut solo album Monster in 2003. He has put out five solo albums, including 2012's critically acclaimed R.A.P. Music. Since 2013, he has been a part of the duo Run The Jewels with New York rapper El-P. The duo is expected to release their fourth album on June 5.
The 45-year-old rapper has long been an activist, and his political messages often come through in his music such as the solo track "Reagan" and Run the Jewels' song "2100."
Render has long spoken out against systematic racism. "When will we, as an American constituency, tell our politicians enough's enough? Enough mayors supporting murderous police departments. Enough police chiefs having to give excuses for murderous police officers," he said in a 2014 Grantland interview discussing musicians getting involved in political change.