The Roots drummer Questlove has challenged fellow musicians to write protest songs in response to recent U.S. grand jury decisions to clear cops over the deaths of two men. Last month (Nov14) it was ruled police officer Darren Wilson would not be indicted after gunning down teenage thief Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri in August (14).
On Wednesday (03Dec14), a grand jury reached a similar conclusion over the case of Eric Garner, who died in July (14) after he was placed in what appeared to be a 'chokehold' by New York officer Daniel Pantaleo as he was arrested for illegally selling cigarettes.
Following the latest ruling, thousands of protesters took to the streets of New York, and many celebrities have echoed their sentiments on social media.
Among them was musician Questlove, who took to Instagram.com to point out contemporary music's lack of political activism.
He wrote, "I urge and challenge musicians and artists alike to push themselves to be a voice of the times that we live in. I'm kinda/sorta addressing the hip hop nation I really apply this challenge to ALL artists. We need new (Bob) Dylans. New Public Enemys. New (Nina) Simones. New (Zack) De La Roachas. New ideas!
"I'm not saying every song gotta be 'Fight The Power' but in times like these we need to be more community minded... I mean real stories. Real narratives. Songs with spirit in them. Songs with solutions. Songs with questions. Protest songs don't have to be boring or non danceable or ready made for the next Olympics. They just have to speak truth...
"My soul is aching man. Seriously just one or two songs that change the course. This is something I feel the need and urgency to put out there."
Stevie Wonder has also spoken out about the controversies, taking time out during a gig in Seattle, Washington on Wednesday to tell the audience, "Can you believe that within one month, two grand juries - secret grand juries - declined to indict two policemen for the killing of two black men? I just don't understand that... I do understand that something is wrong, real wrong. And we as family, Americans, all of us, of all colours, need to fix it with a quickness real soon."
Actor Nate Parker is teaming up with Oscar-nominated filmmaker Amy Berg to develop a documentary about the struggles of African-American men in the U.S. following the death of unarmed teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. The 18 year old was killed by police officer Darren Wilson during a shoplifting investigation in August (14).
The incident and Wilson's subsequent acquittal of murder charges have sparked violent protests throughout the U.S. and now Non-Stop star Parker and Berg have launched an Indiegogo.com fundraising campaign for Black Male Crisis.
A statement on the crowdfunding site reads: "In response to the growing problem of racial disparity due to the ongoing dehumanization of black men, actor and activist Nate Parker is setting out on a journey of investigation.
"He will venture into black communities to speak to various stakeholders about the crisis facing these men. Through the examination of specific cases, Nate will create relevant and responsive discourse with the intention of mining strong and tangible solutions to combat this ever-growing crisis."
Parker and Berg's campaign closes on 5 January (15).
Newlywed singer Solange Knowles has postponed the release of her new Puma sneaker line in support of ongoing protests across the U.S. over the death of unarmed teenager Michael Brown, who was killed by police officer Darren Wilson in August (14). Violent clashes between police and activists erupted across America earlier this week (ends30Nov14) after a Ferguson, Missouri grand jury decided not to indict Wilson, and activists have called for a boycott of major shopping day Black Friday (28Nov14) as part of a nationwide protest.
Beyonce's sister was set to launch her Wild Wonder sneaker collection on Black Friday, but she has decided to push the release to 1 December (14).
In a message on Instagram.com, she writes, "To echo my feelings shared surrounding the outcome of the Michael Brown case, I have solely decided to postpone the release of my Puma collaboration... to Monday December 1.
"I am truly grateful for everyone's support and excited to share this collection with you soon..."
Actress Laverne Cox has slammed the police officer who shot and killed teenager Michael Brown in August (14), insisting he showed no humanity in his first TV interview since a grand jury opted not to indict him. Officer Darren Wilson sat down with U.S. newsman George Stephanopoulos on Tuesday (25Nov14) following the ruling in Ferguson, Missouri on Monday night (24Nov14), which sparked a series of violent protests across America.
In the interview, Wilson expressed his "conscience is clear" because he was just doing his job.
While he did apologise for the loss of life, the Orange is the New Black star feels he could have showed more empathy.
In a segment on U.S. chat show The View on Wednesday (26Nov14), the guest co-host said, "It's deeply painful for me to watch that and this moment for our nation is a deeply painful one. We have yet again another young black person killed in the street without accountability. That is a deeply painful thing and I think it is important for us to create spaces where we can feel that pain and we can heal from that pain.
"Watching the interview, it was hard for me because we understand that a lot of his account of what happened doesn't match with the physical evidence that we do have and I think too the fact that a young person is dead, there didn't seem to be any sense of humanity in him that a person has been lost...
"Even if you feel like the killing is justified, where is the sense of that a life has been lost, that a family has lost their child? I didn't see any sense of humanity there and then I can't help but think of the grand jury testimony when he said that this person had a demon face coming towards him (during the confrontation). So we see the literal demonisation of another young black person by this police officer."
Host Whoopi Goldberg added, "The crappiest part about all of this is that the kid is still dead. For me, I needed a little more compassion, a little more emotion saying, 'I never used my gun before, I never wanted this to happen, this is the last thing that was on my mind...'"
Wilson claims he pulled his gun and shot Brown after the 18 year old started beating him during a shoplifting investigation.
Country singer Garth Brooks has cancelled several U.S. TV promotional appearances in the wake of violent nationwide protests surrounding a Missouri grand jury's decision not to charge a police officer who shot and killed unarmed teenager Michael Brown in August (14). The Dance hitmaker was scheduled to appear on The Tonight Show, Live! with Kelly and Michael and Today this week (begs24Nov14), but he has axed all three because he felt the promotional stops would seem "distasteful".
In a message on Facebook.com, he writes, "We landed in NY last night to the news of the civil unrest that was going on in our nation.
"To spend the day promoting our stuff like nothing was wrong, seemed distasteful to me. I will gladly reschedule any or all appearances the networks will allow. Love one another."
Violence erupted throughout America on Monday night (24Nov14) after the jury's decision not to charge police officer Darren Wilson hit the headlines. Officials in Ferguson, Missouri have called in over 2,000 members of the National Guard to patrol the streets on Tuesday (25Nov14) in an effort to avoid a repeat of the riots that followed Brown's death in August.
Actress/TV host Aisha Tyler found herself overwhelmed with emotion while discussing a grand jury's decision not to indict Missouri police officer Darren Wilson for shooting and killing unarmed teenager Michael Brown in August (14) during her U.S. talk show on Tuesday. Violent protests erupted around the U.S. on Monday (24Nov14) after the ruling was announced, and Tyler admits the decision left her "depressed and heartbroken".
In a segment on her U.S. chat show The Talk the day after (25Nov14), the former Friends star said, "It's almost difficult to know how to feel about what's happening in Ferguson because this has happened so many times before... I'm outraged and I want to act, but I really just feel depressed.
"I expected that he (Wilson) wasn't going to be indicted. He fired at an unarmed kid 12 times... With so many shootings like this you expect a different outcome and you desperately want to think we have moved past a place where you can shoot an unarmed person...
"I'm not a parent, but if I was a parent of a young black man in this country, I wouldn't let him go outside, I wouldn't let him leave my home. It's a terrifying place and I love this country so much and so my heart is broken..."
Outspoken rocker Ted Nugent has risked incurring the wrath of those protesting the decision to let police officer Darren Wilson walk free after shooting and killing unarmed civilian Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri earlier this year (14) by urging parents not to let their kids grow up to be "thugs". After a night of widespread, violent protests in Missouri following Monday's (24Nov14) verdict, many stars like Rihanna and Katy Perry stepped forward to express their disappointment of the jury verdict and call for peace on the streets of Ferguson - but not Nugent.
Instead, the Cat Scratch Fever rocker took aim at the teen who was shot during a robbery mix-up.
In a post on his Facebook.com page, Nugent wrote: "Here's the lessons from Ferguson America - Don't let your kids grow up to be thugs who think they can steal, assault & attack cops as a way of life & badge of black (dis)honor. Don't preach your racist bulls**t 'no justice no peace'."
Unarmed Brown, 18, was shot and killed for stealing $48 (£32) worth of cigarillos.
Nugent continues, "When a cop tells you to get out of the middle of the street, obey him & don't attack him as brainwashed by the gangsta a**holes you hang with & look up to. It's that simple unless you have no brains, no soul, no sense of decency whatsoever.
"And don't claim that black lives matter when you ignore the millions you abort & slaughter each & every day by other blacks. Those of us with a soul do indeed believe black lives matter, as all lives matter. So quit killin' each other you f**kin idiots."
Rappers Macklemore and Q-Tip joined peaceful protests taking place across the U.S. on Monday night (24Nov14) to condemn the decision not to prosecute a police officer who killed unarmed black teenager Michael Brown.
Brown was shot and killed by police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri in August (14) and a jury decided on Monday that no charges should be brought against the cop. The ruling sparked outrage across the U.S. and a protest in Ferguson descended into violence and chaos.
A number of civil demonstrations took place in major cities across the country and the rappers decided to get involved.
Macklemore, real name Ben Haggerty, joined campaigners in his hometown Seattle, Washington and TV footage from local station King5 News shows the demonstrators chanting "Don't shoot" with their hands raised. When asked why he got involved, Haggerty replies, "Solidarity - it's about Mike Brown, it's not about me."
A Tribe Called Quest frontman Q-Tip used Twitter.com to discover the location of New York protesters and was later caught on camera leading chants of "Hands up don't shoot" and "Whose streets? Our streets" with campaigners.
Many celebrities took to their Twitter.com accounts on Monday night to condemn the ruling and to implore Ferguson residents to protest peacefully.
Celebrities including Katy Perry, Pharrell Williams and Cher have taken to social media to express their disappointment after a grand jury ruled against charging the police officer who killed black teenager Michael Brown.
Police officer Darren Wilson shot and killed the unarmed 18 year old in August (14) in Ferguson, Missouri, sparking a spate of protests through city.
On Monday (24Nov14), a jury decided against prosecuting Wilson over the incident and a peaceful protest encouraged by Brown's family quickly descended into violence and chaos.
Celebrities took to Twitter.com to condemn the ruling, including Katy Perry, who wrote, "Sending my prayers to Ferguson & praying for an equal America," while Happy singer Pharrell Williams, adds, "I'm heartbroken over the news of no indictment in Ferguson. Let's all pray for peace." Girls actress Lena Dunham writes, "All my love is with the family of Michael Brown. I applaud their strength and courage, mourn their loss, pray they see justice and change," and will.i.am adds, "I just found about the verdict... I feel sick to my stomach... I'm angry & confused...I feel betrayed... My heart goes out to the family of Mike Brown, the people of Ferguson and America as a whole..."
Other stars reacted to the footage of protests, looting and buildings being set on fire, and they implored campaigners to act peacefully, including pop icon Cher, who wrote, "Violence is not the answer! Vote 2 (to) change state laws... It's not (a) protest, it's crime."
Country singer Blake Shelton adds, "Breaks my heart to see all the destruction. Praying for the community," while Josh Groban states, "My thoughts are with the Ferguson community. I hope the frustration, as well as the love for the Brown family, shows itself through peace."
Fall Out Boy rocker Pete Wentz adds, "Dang just now seeing whats happening in Ferguson (sic)... As a father I can't imagine losing either of my sons. Not in this way. I cannot imagine what it would feel like, the sadness and the rage. As a country we have to do better. This is not OK," and Fast and Furious actress Michelle Rodriguez writes, "Protesters please remember that you can't act like animals and expect to be treated like civilised citizens (sic)..."
Country star Hunter Hayes has cancelled an upcoming concert in St. Louis, Missouri after the state's governor announced a state of emergency in anticipation of the grand jury decision in the case against police officer Darren Wilson, who shot and killed an unarmed black teenager in August (14).
Governor Jay Nixon activated the U.S. National Guard on Monday (17Nov14), fearing a repeat of the race riots and hostilities that ripped through the state following Michael Brown's death in in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson. And, with the jury's decision expected this week (ends21Nov14), Nixon has put all local police departments on alert in the event the verdict incites more violence. As a result, Hayes, who was scheduled to perform at St. Louis University on Thursday night (20Nov14), is taking precautions. A statement from his representative reads: "Out of respect for Missouri Governor Jay Nixon's declaration declaring a state of emergency in Missouri, Hunter Hayes' Thursday, November 20 show at Chaifetz Arena in St. Louis has been cancelled." Hayes plans to reschedule the concert for 2015.