New York - Rapper Jay-Z and his company Roc Nation announced plans today to fund a national program called Copwatch. This will be in collaboration with a network of organizations from around the nation. A representative from Roc Nation stated that the move is to provide direct action in response to the ongoing crisis of state sanctioned violence.
Copwatch programs have been in effect for decades in cities like New York and Oakland. The main function of Copwatch groups is the of monitoring police activity. "Copwatchers" go out on foot or driving patrols in their communities and record interactions between the police and civilians, with the hope that monitoring police activity will provide a deterrent against police misconduct.
Through this new parternship current Copwatch programs will some receive major upgrades. This includes a fleet of new vehicles equipped with video & audio surveillance, flood lights, and bulletproofing. As well, Copwatchers will have access to a team of lawyers provided by the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund. A training program is being established to help develop Copwatch units in cities around the country.
The move comes as a surprise to many as only a year ago Jay entered a partnership with the NFL to support social justice issues. That deal received a lot of harsh criticism and backlash from the Left. This deal is receiving just as much criticism, but now from the other side of the political spectrum.
Opponents of the arrangement are calling it an assault on law enforcement. The Fraternal Order of Police released a statement shortly after the announcement. In it they condemned Mr. Carter, saying that, “his actions would endanger the lives of police officers and prevent them from carrying out their duties effectively.”
A representative from the Justice Department reported that they are looking into the legality of the practice. Meanwhile, Senator Mitch McConnell has called on Congress to take action. In a an interview today on the steps of the Capitol Building he declared, “we will take all possible congressional action to stop this unwarranted attack on our nation’s officers who put their lives on the line each day. Their jobs are dangerous enough as is without having to worry about being harrassed by this thug and his group of radicals.”
The move also prompted a response from the NFL who terminated their deal with the Roc Nation mogul. Roger Goodell, the NFL’s Commissioner, announced the separation in a statement saying, “we fully support the great officers of this nation and are in talks to partner with the F.O.P. to promote safety and social responsibility in our society.”
Not all are opposed to the deal though. Local Brooklyn resident Takeem Matthews expressed his excitement about the new project. “This is what Jay [Z] should’ve did in the first place. We need support out here. The cops are murdering and harrassing us left and right; and getting away with it! I hope this helps bring some change, cause I don’t know how much more we can take.”