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Posted by : cj on Tuesday, January 05, 2010 - 07:01 PM
Chicago Poetry News: Click On Headlines

Chicago Poets Outraged As One Of Their Own Succumbs To Police Brutality

Poetry Dateline: 01/05/10:

On the afternoon of January 4, 2010, Chicago Def Jam poet, comedian and hip-hop artist Prince Akbar, also known as Jus Rhymz, was tasered and shot to death by two Calumet City police officers. Akbar, whose inspirations ranged from Louis Farrakhan to Dave Chappelle, was a Columbia College graduate who performed in Poetry Slams. Akbar was well known as the author of "WARZONE" (click to read it), a five part blog that chronicled day by day shootings in his Southside neighborhood and that talked about police brutality and issues of racism. Chicago poet Stephany Rose sites Akbar's blog in her 2008 story about the Jennifer Hudson family tragedy.

On Akbar's myspace page, Akbar wrote: "I love to perform on stage . . . I want to be the Tiger Woods of Spoken Word and Slam . . . My poems are about everything such as addiction, politics, racism, self hate, and controversial realities affecting me and my people as we continue to grow in America and the world." In March 2003, Akbar's dream came true when he won a Columbia College student contest that earned him a spot in a Def Poetry Jam show at Cabaret Metro, during which he "electrified" the crowd. The Chicago Tribune reported that Akbar "delivered the strongest piece" of the evening. According to the Tribune: "After Akbar stirred the crowd, the Def Poets, for the most part, failed to capitalize on the momentum [Akbar] generated."

Like many other talented artists, Akbar also suffered from mental turmoil. On his blog, Akbar is quoted as saying: "It is hard to be consistently powerful and in control of my emotions." While spending time in a psych ward after an attempted suicide, Akbar wrote the following lines in a poem:

I know im mentally ill
And i have a chemical imbalance on my brain
But i also know despite my handicap
I have proved i cam improve and change

But the pill pushers and staff
Don't understand the solution
So they keep pushing pills
And promoting the mentally ill more pollution.

It is not exactly clear what actually happened on the afternoon of January 4, because all immediate news reports have been extremely biased in favor of the police officers. Based upon what information has been provided, this is how it seems to have gone down. Akbar, possibly desperate and stranded in the deadly cold weather, naively entered a School District building at 1579 S. Wentworth Ave. in Calumet City at about 12:30 PM asking if he could use their telephone. Perhaps frightened by the big scary man, the Calumet City School District employees refused. They told Akbar to go find a payphone. Upset, and perhaps crashing from a lack of the medication prescribed by the system for his "chemical imbalance," Akbar began walking through the hallway of the school shouting what was most likely a poem. The employees kicked him out of the building and locked the doors, but not before unnecessarily calling the police for help. From there, Akbar waved at some cars hoping to hitch a ride. Perhaps frightened by the big scary man in the middle of the street, someone in a car used a cell phone to, once again, unnecessarily call the police. At that point Akbar had broken no laws, other than just being loud and obnoxious. Before he was able to hitch a ride, Akbar was confronted by two Calumet City police officers. A struggle ensued, during which Akbar, who was unarmed, protested. The police officers responded by tasering Akbar twice. Injured and in a state of panic, Akbar fought back. A Calumet City police officer then shot him, point blank, twice in the chest. Akbar was pronounced dead at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn at 1:51 PM. This how it probably went down, based upon the information provided.

Adrienne Huff, commenting on a report of Akbar's death in the Tribune, said: "Brother Prince Akbar was a very caring, intelligent, and wise brother who didn't deserve this. The police could have handled this much differently. HE WAS UNARMED! This brother didn't like the way the justice system was treating Blacks and he was very vocal about it. He was a college graduated, with no criminal background despite his environment. He rose to the occasion . . . He touched many lives in a positive way. He will be truly missed."


Story by CJ Laity
Information obtained through Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, WGN TV, CBS2 News, and other sources.

Note: Click Here to read the tragic story of a spoken-word artist taken down by trigger happy cops.

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