A number of distinguished hip hop stars in addition to hashish and felony justice activists have banded collectively to assist Atlanta rapper Terrell Davis, professionally referred to as Ralo, who’s at present in jail for hashish trafficking prices. Organized by hashish clemency activist group Mission Green, the consortium has despatched a letter to President Biden advocating for the discharge of Ralo and different incarcerated on cannabis-related prices.
“On behalf of Terrell Davis and his household, we strongly urge you to grant clemency for Mr. Davis, who’s serving federal time for non-violent marijuana offense,” the letter reads. “The undersigned— musicians, actors, athletes, filmmakers, present and former elected and appointed authorities officers, advocates, and enterprise leaders—strongly consider that justice necessitates the train of clemency on this case. Our nation’s view of hashish has developed, and it’s indefensible to incarcerate residents primarily based on the unduly harsh attitudes of previous generations,” the letter continues.
Particularly, signatories embrace Grammy-winning hip hop artist and actor Drake, hip hop artist and activist Killer Mike, NFL Corridor-of-Famer and Tremendous Bowl champion Deion Sanders, NBA All-Star John Wall, hip hop artist and felony justice advocate Meek Mill, NFL participant Julio Jones, former U.S. Legal professional for the District of Kansas Barry Grissom, hip hop artist and Grammy winner T.I., Indiana state senator Eddie Melton (D-IN), felony justice activist Alice Johnson, and plenty of others. Others within the hip hop group who’ve signed on embrace recording artists 2 Chainz, Freeway, Loon, Lil’ Yachty, Waka Flocka, Child Bash, and others.
“How is it okay for a white man in Oregon, Nevada, or Colorado to develop, smoke, and revenue thousands and thousands from marijuana however a younger black man from the Westside of Atlanta who’s been nothing lower than a service and a pillar to his group will be jailed and brought away from his household for allegedly doing the identical factor?” says rap artist T.I.
Rapper and political activist Killer Mike shared an analogous sentiment in a tweet again in February of final yr. “At a time the place so many younger White individuals and others are capitalizing off of marijuana’s new legitimacy to see this brother sit and endure is sickening. He’s an actual one and helped his group, and now he’s a hostage of the state,” he says of Ralo.
Together with and centering the hip hop group in hashish and felony justice advocacy is important, says Mission Inexperienced founder, hip hop producer, and pardon recipient Weldon Angelos.
“I give hip hop credit score for normalizing hashish use,” says Angelos. “Hip hop has normalized it to the extent that it may well legalize. I believe hip hop has executed extra for this effort than another group. It’s a robust drive—going again to Tupac, B.I.G.—everybody that was simply speaking about smoking, they normalized it. It grew to become cool. It is a massive a part of legalization,” he says of hip hop’s contributions to hashish tradition and coverage change.
Ralo has been imprisoned for almost three years in connection to a 2018 drug case, during which he was charged with two federal counts of possession with intent to distribute marijuana after 444 kilos of weed have been discovered on a non-public airplane. He’s at present incarcerated on the Clayton County Detention Middle in Ashland, Ala. and faces as much as 8 years in federal jail on conspiracy prices.
“I’ve been in state jail on a number of events and I’ve been to county jail. I used to be in a position to really feel their ache,” Ralo says in a cellphone interview from jail about others who’re incarcerated on hashish prices. He explains that he was oblivious to the assorted actions that, when mixed within the eyes of a choose, can get you further time “similar to that,” Ralo says. Particularly, he’s referring to necessary minimums and different sentencing conventions that add vital time when mixed with different prices, like weapons, even when they weren’t materials to the alleged crime dedicated.
“If we knew higher, we do higher,” Ralo says.
“Lots of people, like myself, endure from a lack of awareness. I by no means knew I could possibly be going through this period of time for marijuana. Lots of people are available right here for issues they executed that they shoulda hidden or whatnot, they usually simply didn’t know. I hope the federal authorities adjustments they legal guidelines, in fact, but when they don’t, our individuals have to know they legal guidelines, even when they horrible legal guidelines,” says Ralo.
“Lots of people don’t have a voice. The very best factor to occur to my type and all of us is that I can converse out. And my voice is kinda loud. I hope that I can get pardoned and nonetheless advocate,” Ralo says of his future. He provides that talking out is tough for prisoners, who’re topic to cell lockdowns and restricted cellphone time every month.
Ralo additionally talked about that this was the primary time the rapper Drake, particularly, has lent his identify to felony justice initiatives.
“I’d prefer to thank him, specifically,” he says, additionally naming and thanking T.I. and Meek Mill. Along with signing the letter, Drake not too long ago shouted out Ralo on his monitor Lemon Pepper: “Actual life, the entire Fam goons like Ralo/One truck in entrance of me, one behind me to comply with,” the traces learn, referring to Ralo’s crew.
The letter particularly brings to gentle President Biden’s personal phrases, spoken throughout a November 2019 Democratic main debate, throughout which he mentioned, “I believe we must always decriminalize marijuana, interval. And I believe everybody – anybody who has a report must be let loose of jail, their data expunged, be fully zeroed out.”
The letter comes at a comparatively fortuitous time within the cannabis activism movement. Earlier this yr, a number of individuals incarcerated on hashish prices, like Michael Thompson, Corvain Cooper, Mission Inexperienced founder Weldon Angelos, and others have been granted pardons or sentence commutations. A number of states have enacted adult-use legalization, together with New York, which is predicted to blossom right into a $2.5 billion authorized hashish market as soon as it’s up and operating. Requires clemency for these jailed on hashish prices have proliferated alongside these legalization successes.
The letter factors out that although many benefitted from clemency throughout the prior presidential administration underneath President Trump, many extra have been omitted for causes unknown, together with notable hashish prisoners like Luke Scarmazzo and Davis.
“Whereas your predecessor commuted the sentences of over a dozen people who have been serving prolonged jail sentences for marijuana, the overwhelming majority of these serving time for marijuana within the federal system have been left behind, together with Mr. Davis, and public consideration centered on the disparity between these deserving of presidential clemency and those that have been rich or related sufficient to foyer the White Home,” the letter reads. “That type of clemency must be changed with a principled, energetic, and significant program that higher suits trendy America.”
Beneath is the remainder of the letter, together with a full checklist of signatories.