Supreme Court Rejects First Amendment Case Over Rapper Jamal Knox's Cop Lyrics
Killer Mike, 21 Savage, Chance the Rapper, Meek Mill, and more defended Knox’s “Fuck The Police” lyrics.
The Supreme Court has declined to open the Jamal Knox v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania case for further review on Monday, (April 15).
According to CNN, the case stemmed from Knox’s song “Fuck The Police.” The rapper was arrested in 2012, in part for gun and drug charges.
Knox and Rashee Beasley, who goes by “Souja Beaz,” wrote and recorded the song including the names of the two Pittsburgh officers who arrested them. In 2014, prosecutors accused Knox, whose rap name is Mayhem Mal, of terroristic threats and intimidating witnesses, and he was sentenced to two to six years in prison.
Knox argued he was sent to prison for a song that was protected by the First Amendment.
In 2013, the court found Knox guilty and held that the song amounted to a “true threat.” He appealed his conviction to the Pennsylvania state Supreme Court, which upheld the ruling last year, and is now divided over the standard for what constitutes a “true threat.”
The case garnered more attention in March when Killer Mike gathered a group of artists including 21 Savage, Chance the Rapper, Meek Mill, Yo Gotti, Fat Joe, and Styles P to contribute to support the defense of Knox’s lyrics as “a work of poetry.” In their legal brief, it’s argued that the song is “not intended to be taken literally, something that a reasonable listener with even a casual knowledge of rap would understand.” The song is referred to as a “political statement … that no reasonable person familiar with rap music would have interpreted as a true threat of violence.”