JSO Arrests Of Rappers With Guns In Videos Raises Questions About Crime And Politics

Jan 31, 2019

Earlier this week police announced the arrests of six people in “Operation Rap Up.” 

They are convicted felons accused of illegal firearm possession. At least five of those arrested were seen in locally-produced music videos holding weapons.

Our Florida Times-Union news partner reported the main expert police relied on to get arrest warrants for the five can’t say for sure the people in the videos were holding real weapons and the Sheriff’s Office’s own firearm expert admitted that it’s not possible to definitively prove if the guns were real based on what can be seen in video depictions of an object.

The Times-Union also reported is wasn't clear how the sixth suspect arrested was connected to the video, based on the arrest warrant.

The arrests point to the ongoing issue of gang violence in the city.

Duval County had the Jacksonville Journey, which was consolidated with the Jacksonville Chidren's Commission to form the Kids Hope Alliance, and a task force on safety and crime prevention that has been recently assembled but Mick Hallett, a Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice at University of North Florida, thinks that Jacksonville needs a program “without a stake in local politics.”

Hallett added, “It does also highlight the need for Jacksonville to have a bonafide, stand-alone, separately-funded, Miami Children’s Trust kind of agenda that transcends mayoral administrations, transcends politics, and can legitimately fund programs that are long-term and that have bonafide external evaluations conducted by people without a stake in local politics,” 

Mayor Lenny Curry attended the JSO news conference on the rap video arrests. Curry is running for reelection as is Sheriff Mike Williams, who held the news conference.

Councilwoman and mayoral candidate Anna Brosche released a statement Wednesday, alleging the news conference was a "political stunt."

Brosche said, “Violent crime in Jacksonville is a serious issue that has a real and lasting impact on the safety of children and families throughout our community. Press conferences and preening are great for free publicity, but won’t do anything to make our communities safer. The only time Mayor Curry has shown any initiative to stop the Curry crime wave is when he needs voters to show up at the ballot box.”

Sheriff Williams declined to name the gangs or the crimes they’re believed associated with at the news conference.

Those arrested - and the three that were still being sought by police at last report - are all between the ages of 17– and 29-years-old.

Click here to hear the full interview with Hallett and the rest of Thursday’s First Coast Connect with Melissa Ross.


Amanda Brannon can be reached at newsteam@wjct.org, 904-358-6317.