Entitled “Rap Music on Trial: Protect Black Art,” the petition highlights how prosecutors have attempted to use hip-hop lyrics in court. Specifically, the petition points out that very tactic has been utilized against Young Thug, Gunna, and their Young Stoner Life associates facing RICO charges. “In the indictment, Fulton County prosecutors argue that lyrics like 'ready for war like I’m Russia' are a confession of criminal intent," reads the petition, which calls to protect Black art and the First Amendment.
"Weaponizing creative expression against artists is obviously wrong. But what gets us so upset is what’s happening to Young Thug, Gunna, and YSL is just the most high-profile case," said Liles and Greenwald in a joint statement. "In courtrooms across America, Black creativity and artistry is being criminalized. With increasing and troubling frequency, prosecutors are attempting to use rap lyrics as confessions, just like they’re doing in this case."
Just last month, the state of New York passed a “Rap Music on Trial” bill that limits the use of song lyrics as evidence in court. “We need to step up, support these efforts, and get this bill across the finish line,” the pair's statement continues. “We need to urge the prompt adoption of legislation at the Federal and State level that would limit how prosecutors can use creative and artistic expression as evidence against defendants in criminal trials."
Earlier this month, Liles testified in court on behalf of Thug and spoke about his relationship with the rapper. “I’m kind of emotional because of how good this guy is,” Liles told the judge, as he fought back tears. “I’m willing to back him personally and professionally. ... This whole thing that people are talking about, it’s not him. The Jeffery I know, he’ll give me the clothes off his back. The Jeffery I know, I can give him my kids and he’ll give me his kids.”