A Seaside, California rapper, unhappy with local media coverage of a number of evictions for persons who appeared in his music video, wrote a post on Medium specifically calling out the writer of the evictions story for what he perceives as focusing on the wrong thing (i.e. not enough focus on the punishment that was the actual evictions).
Originally (see: last week), Monterey County Weekly covered a half dozen July evictions that occurred in the Del Monte Manor complex because the tenants were accused of being tied to "criminal or wrongful activity," due to their alleged participation in "an unauthorized and unpermitted film project involving what appeared to be a music video on the premises."
The footage in question was a music video for a song called "We Crippin." That video hit the internet on June 16, though it was taken down shortly afterward. Unfortunately for those in the video, it was reportedly archived by the Seaside police.
Monterey County Weekly went on to describe the contents of the video in a way that irritated one of the two rappers credited for the song, specifically Michael “Da Bigg Homie” Mckinney. The publication goes on to say that the Del Monte Manor complex is easily identifiable within the clip, and that the song/footage was recorded in an apparent response to the murder of a 32-year-old father of two. That man, Tremain Calloway, was killed while driving by the complex. Two men who are allegedly members of the Crips have since been arrested and charged for his murder.
Mckinney began his post by stating:
Recently there was an article published by the Monterey County Weekly, reporting several evictions of Del Monte Manor residents in response to a music video. However, the details of these six eviction notices were misconstrued and misrepresented. There are several concerning aspects of the tone, delivery, and content released in this article.
Mckinney contends that there is "truth disclosed in certain variables to this complicated equation," but says that that "truth is limited." He goes on to say that the Monterey County Weekly writer didn't understand the goal and purpose behind the video.
"Our intentions were to unite, not destroy relationships and create more adversity," Mckinney wrote. "(...) There were multiple established rivals on the scene during filming, solely for the purpose of ending long term issues, while honoring and paying tribute to a beloved, and fallen community member. There was absolutely no violence." Note that this would appear to be a response to the County Weekly line that there was lyrical content "boasting about killing rivals and other forms of gang violence," though the Monterey writer didn't write anything about actual violence occurring at the filming.
While going on to criticize the writer's journalism, Mckinney says the local police were on scene throughout the filming. He says that the relationship between the police and residents was cordial and respectful. He also says that context within the article for why the video was archived was non-existent. Mckinney then contended that glorification of bad living conditions and illegal activity is never the goal. "Our purpose is NEVER to glorify illegal and illicit activities," he wrote. "We’ve NEVER aspired to glorify harsh living conditions, but rather accept and embrace our surroundings, while expressing ourselves in a healthy manner."
Mckinney concludes his explanation of the controversy by expressing frustration over the writer's focus on lyrics and "gangsta" imagery over the actions of the management company in charge of Del Monte Manor (a company called TerraCorp).
As for TerraCorp's side of things, they state that the evicted tenants provided aid to the production. An advocate for those tenants said that eviction was an extreme reaction compared to what they actually did. That advocate also says those in the footage may have been unaware of the song's lyrics, and that they may have thought they had been taking part in a memorial for Calloway.
In addition to comments from said aforementioned advocate, the Monterey County Weekly piece included a note that the lawyer for TerraCorp did not answer questions related to the story.
That lawyer's lack of comment angered Mckinney, who wrote:
"This company TerraCorp’s lawyer didn’t even publicly respond to the outlandish and unreasonable eviction notices. The whole display almost appears to be a pitiful excuse for a means of gentrification. Shame on the Seaside PD for not adding context to the situation."
The Monterey County Weekly piece also noted a comment from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development which stated that they were aware of the evictions, but that they couldn't intervene without a formal complaint being filed.
Mckinney wraps things up by concluding that Monterey County Weekly's coverage of the events was due to a "cultural disconnect."
As he wrote:
"When will we take a stand against tyrannical housing corporations, pushing their own agenda, regardless if it displaces the elderly and the innocent? When will we take control of our contextualized history, and be the leaders of our own narrative? The time is now. It starts here."