Chief Keef was arrested at gunpoint for a past misdemeanor.

Date: June 17

Chief Keef was arrested—yet again—on Monday by Chicago police. The most recent in a series of arrests stemming from an initial confrontation with police over a year ago, when the then-16-year-old ended up with an aggravated unlawful use of a weapon charge. Since then, though, he's become famous, and moderately wealthy (enough to buy a house, anyway), and his arrests have been on relatively minor charges: Marijuana in Georgia, speeding in suburban Chicago. The reaction across the web has been a mix of jokes about the predictability of seeing Keef in handcuffs, and stern moralizing about his being on the wrong path. Meanwhile, the circumstances of his arrest—Chicago police traveling miles to the rapper's speeding ticket hearing in Skokie, Illinois, to arrest him, reportedly with guns drawn, for a misdemeanor trespassing offense—don't spark much concern at all.

Instead, the controversy focuses on the artist's moral fiber. Not to excuse any of Keef's behavior, which is surely not helping him out in the eyes of the law. (Did his lawyer really okay random drug tests as a part of his probation for the speeding charge?) but it seems like the "predictability" of him being arrested has more to do with flaws in the country's justice system than with his recent behavior, which, while not anything that should be encouraged, isn't really all that different from anything that millions of teenagers are doing across the country every day.

The difference, of course, is where Keef is from and who he is. There is an entire strata of our society that is allowed to essentially graduate from school and transition directly into the prison system. It doesn't matter that he's no longer on a corner dealing drugs; he can still get dinged on probation violations like trespassing misdemeanors and smoking weed. Shit that friends of mine all got into when they were in high school.

The difference is twofold: One, there's always the possibility that police are targeting him specifically (certainly travelling up to Skokie to arrest him on a minor charge gives this impression) because of how much attention he's drawn to the system's complete failure to deal with violence in the city. But the second part is more important, because this isn't about Keef, really. Whether or not you fuck with his music, this should be drawing all kinds of attention to our overcrowded prisons, full of kids from places like Woodlawn, who never have a chance to get out from under the first crime they commit. —David Drake

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