Rapper Killer Mike Has A Political History Way Beyond Endorsing Bernie Sanders For President
Before he takes the stage for s rally in Atlanta Monday, Bernie Sanders will be introduced by rapper Killer Mike. It may seem like a random pairing, but the local musician has firmly backed Sanders for months, and this isn't just another celebrity endorsement — that wouldn't be Sanders' style. Killer Mike (whose real name is Michael Render), is not only known for his music. He has long been been involved in politics, having appeared on Real Time with Bill Maher, Fox, and CNN. And looking at his strong views on racial discrimination and criminal justice reform, it makes complete sense that he'd be introducing Sanders in his hometown of Atlanta.
Concluding a two-day trip through Georgia, Sanders will take the stage at Atlanta's Fox Theater Monday evening for a campaign rally open to the public. The previous day, Sanders visited Savannah, where he received an introduction from Mayor Edna Jackson, who praised his longtime dedication to ending discrimination. Monday night, Render will likely give Sanders a similar introduction, given the musician's own involvement with race issues. Over the last year, as the Black Lives Matter movement emerged and took shape after Ferguson, Render has become a prominent pundit in discussions on racial injustice, police reform, and gun violence. And he even attempted to get off the sidelines by foraying into politics with a state legislature run.
Here's a full look at Killer Mike's political history, and how it aligns with Sanders' own mission to end racial injustice.
He Tried To Run For The Georgia State House Of Representatives
In June, Render announced that he was running to be representative of Georgia’s 55th district in the state legislature as a write-in candidate. He made the announcement on Instagram, asking his 140,000 followers to go to the polls and write in his name on the ballot. However, he was ultimately unable to run, because he did not register as a write-in candidate.
He Was Outspoken After Ferguson
Last August, in the wake of Michael Brown's death in Ferguson, Render emerged as an outspoken activist for racial justice, and has continued to weave his activism into his music career. In an interview with Grantland, Render articulated the frustration he felt as an African-American living in the U.S. after Ferguson:
Children dead in the middle of the streets of America by government sanction is supposed to be the most unfathomable shit in any American’s life. But I’ve been forced to fathom this because I’ve been a black male all my life ... I’m angry. And I’m not angry as a black man, not angry as a member of the working class. I’m angry as an American. I would just like to have the full American experience, without having to fight so damn hard for it. I want everything that this country promises me, and I will not expect a dollar less on that debt.
He Has Unique Insight On The Relationship Between Law Enforcement And The Community
That same month, Render appeared on Fox Business to discuss his thoughts on how to keep both police officers and the community safe. As the son of a former Atlanta police officer, he has seen how law enforcement has gone from allies of the community to enemies and he strongly urges police officers everywhere to reestablish that connection to the people.
To keep police safe, we're going to have to have policemen be a part of our community again, not just occupying our community.
He's Written About The Militarization Of The Police
Render wrote an op-ed for Billboard magazine, published on August 19, 2015, in which he described the military zone that Ferguson had become in response to the protests, underscoring the dire need for police reform. In the piece, he writes:
This week I have seen tanks, rubber bullets and tear gas used by police against the citizens that pay them. This is not Egypt or Syria or Palestine, but today it feels that way. It feels as if death can come, without reason, from a uniformed government official and, if we do not press back against this Blue Wall of Silence and gang-like mentality of our local police, we all are in danger.
He's Not Entirely Liberal
In the same Fox Business interview, Render proclaimed that he's a member of the NRA and a "staunch supporter of the Second Amendment."
My dad taught me to love this country and to love the U.S. Constitution.