Last week, Kennedy Marie, a 7-year-old girl, was hit in the head by a stray bullet in Atlanta’s Buckhead district, and she succumbed to her injury on the day after Christmas. The devasting news prompted legendary producer Jermain Dupri to vent about his frustration with senseless killings and call for tougher policing via his social media platforms.
While the Atlanta hip-hop mogul’s comment might’ve come from a genuine place of concern, the message in whole was ill-received by audiences online.
In a now-deleted tweet, which was captured by folks on social media, the So So Def owner wrote in a post, “If you really from the A, it’s time for us to come together and stop all this shooting sh-t at Lenox and now Phipps.” The producer added, “the police need to get tougher, the profiling needs to go to code red and I can give a f-ck about y’all getting mad about me saying this, lil kids getting shot is wack.”
Dupri’s message came after Marie was shot in the back of the head on Dec. 21 while in the back seat of her mother’s car near the Phipps Plaza shopping mall. Her mother and aunt were able to take her to a hospital promptly, and many in the “City Too Busy to Hate” held their breath about her condition until the news of her passing. The shooter is still on the loose. The young girl’s death marked the 155th homicide in the city, making this year Atlanta’s deadliest year since 1998.
Dupri, who recently released a track titled “Change,” which aimed to bring attention to all social justice issues, had advocated for social justice reform heavily in recent months. But his recent comment garnered him backlash from critics who accused him now of only emboldening law enforcement to harass Black people even more than they do already. “Very dangerous and reckless words. That’s all it takes to become another #PhilandroCastile (a law abiding citizen murdered by the police) How soon we forget,” one Twitter user expressed. They added, “People who pay for drivers should be quite if its not conducive to all involved. #respectfully.”
Another person commented, “Was wit u til u said ‘profiling needs to go to code red’ That’s emotional & not the answer.” They added, “U either don’t know or don’t care bout what that really means. Means more BS charges 4 poor Blacks with no lawyer money = fewer job opps 4 em & more crime. If police don’t kill em 1st.”
Several other people voiced that they felt that celebrities should not suggest solutions for topics that they were so far removed from, including a third person who said, “This is exactly why celebrities shouldn’t be spokesmen for black people.” They added, “They aren’t even out here with the rest of us. Of course he doesn’t have to worry about being profiled from the comfort of his mansion. No solutions for the black people who are going to be locked unjustly?”
“You know you can advocate for non-violence without suggesting cops profile BLACK people harder, right? Often times that result in police brutality. There’s been countless shootings here in ATL, but y’all speak up when it includes a mall? Help me understand,” a fourth wrote.
Dupri hasn’t responded to the backlash. According to interim Atlanta Police Chief Rodney Bryant, there’s currently a $15,000 reward for any information that would lead to the arrest of the person or people responsible for Marie’s death.