Friday, May 29, 2009

Tou Ger Xiong's statement on the Fong Lee decision

Some background info.

Comments read to the press today.

My name is Tou Ger Xiong and I'm a member of CCR, Coalition for Community Relations. We are a group of concerned citizens working to improve race relations and foster trust in our communities. Like many of you we have been following this case very closely and like many of you, we have many questions surrounding the death of Fong Lee. We ask why a 19 year old teenager who decided to go for a bike ride on a hot summer day never returned home? Why was his life cut short? Why did he get shot 8 times by the hands of a Minneapolis Police Peace Officer. For the past few years, we've exercise patience and have encouraged the family and others in the community to do the same in the hopes that this trial will bring the Lee Family Justice and restore our faith in the judicial process and in our communities.

Since the trial began, We've been in the courts everyday and we too, have heard every testimony that the jury did, and we saw every piece of evidence that the jury did.

We had hoped that the jury would rendered justice for the Lee family and for everyone who has been a victim of police brutality. Today's verdict is beyond disappointment and disbelief. We are angry. We feel belittled. We feel betrayed.

Today's verdict says that Anderson's actions were proper and legal. This does nothing more than to reaffirm that we should fear police and members of law enforcement because it says to us, Watch out. If a cop thinks you pose a threat, you will be shot and you will be killed. Furthermore, it says that after you get shot and killed, the officer who kills you will get an award from the Minneapolis Police Chief.

Today's verdict basically says to us that a rookie cop like Jason Anderson who's been reprimanded in the past for using racial slurs toward minority groups, can decide in a split second whether your sons or daughters live or die based on his "suspicion" alone. That scares me to death and it should scare you too.

How can we feel safe if our officers of peace are officers of honored killings?

How can we trust a police force that rewards it cops with medals for the killing of a 19 year old when all of the facts surround that event is still in question?

How can we be sure that the police didn't tamper with the evidence that they had exclusive access to for the last two years?

How can we be sure that the video wasn't edited, erased, and altered?

Why wasn't the tape from the Officer Anderson's squadcar taken into evidence right away?
How did the MPD attained the serial number to a Baikal Gun without the gun itself?

Why were the grand jury transcripts not made public if there is nothing to hide?

Who conducted the interenal affair surrounding this event? What evidence was considered?
Why weren't the eye witnesses interview in that process? And why the rush?

Why is there so many inconsistencies in the reports and depositions given by police, and particularly Officer Andersona nd Trooper Benz?

And we can't even begin to question the scientic evidence surrounding the gun found next to Fong's body?

With regard to the trial, Why did the Judge Magnuson rule to include Fong's lee juvenile record as evidence but specifically rule to omit Officer Anderson's record of making racist statements toward minority groups in the trial?

If this is to be a jury that resembles the demographic of the community, how is it that from a pool of 85 potential jurors, not one of them is a person of color?

These questions are puzzling and only create more division and distrust of our law enforcement and the judicial process.

These are just a few of the many mysteries that still go unanswered.

These are some of the reasons why we are calling for a federal and independent investigator.

Therefore, today's verdict was not only a slap in the face to the Lee Family but a disgrace to the community and to the judicial process. Today's verdict said to us loud and clear, that because you are Hmong, you are a second class citizens and have no constitutional rights.

Tou Ger
**************

The next step is the issue assembly this Saturday, May 30, 2009; 10am-12pm at Lao Family (320 University Ave) where we will talk about this issue and others and have community members commit on working to change the Minneapolis police department.

During the rally organizing process, we had written a letter to Mayor Rybak about all our demands. They have replied that they want to meet with us. Who ever signs up to work on this issue at the issue assembly will get to shape and create the meeting with the Minneapolis Mayor and this issue.

We have to change the policies at the MPD so that injustice doesn’t happen again. This is the next step, so if you want to be part of this process, attend the event this Saturday.

Thanks,

Amee

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Soundset Report-Back

Photo jacked from SoundsetFestival.com:
For those curious, Soundset went really ridiculously well, at least from my perspective. Me and Big Cats! got there at 9am and milled about for a few hours before being able to set up our equipment, which of course stopped working for no reason. But that's hip hop; sometimes you have to improvise. And we did.

11am the DJ started (King Otto) and the doors opened. I snuck outside for a second and saw the line, which was just insanely long. As I've said at shows, I LOVE the people who show up early or on time for hip hop shows. They're the best people in the universe.

We were on at noon, which I thought was going to kill us-- most people just getting there, many not yet arrived, everyone checking out the booths and the layout of the show, Toki Wright on the other stage at the same time-- lots of factors against us. But it really ended up being a blessing in disguise. It was a big day, and a lot of anticipation was built up, so going first allowed us to benefit from all that built-up excitement. We had a huge crowd, and I thought our set went pretty flawlessly.

Had Big Cats! as the DJ/live MPC guy, See More Perspective as hypeman (and snuck in a few verses) and a guest appearance from Chantz. I even remembered to shout out all the stuff I wanted to shout out (Hip Hop Against Homophobia on 6/13 at the Bedlam and 6/27 at the Depot, buy our CDs, big ups to the label, let's get more women on stage next year).

We sold and/or gave away all our merch, which is always good. I left early, because I don't like sunlight or crowds. But had a great time.

I'll post photos when I get some.

Next show is Thursday 5/28 at Club Underground; KFAI community radio fundraiser w/ Chastity Brown, Jelloslave and See More Perspective.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Download the "Flyover Land" mixtape for free!

It's the new mixtape from homegrown hip hop blog Midwest Broadcast, featuring songs from Hieruspecs, Muja Messiah, M.anifest, Big Quarters, No Bird Sing and many more, including an exclusive track from me and Big Cats! It's definitely worth a look.

Here's the link to the page with the download link.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Soundset Tickets and Free Transportation



Soundset is officially offering a FREE ride to those of you that do not have transportation to Shakopee, MN!

Here's the deal, Soundset will offer a FREE shuttle service from Mall of America at the North Bus Loop (between Nordstroms and Sears) direct to Canterbury- dropping off at the entrance to the concert site. We will have 2 buses going every half hour starting at 10:00am. Please note, the pick up location is NOT the MOA transit center. Just look for the orange school buses that say Positive Connection & SOUNDSET. The FREE shuttles run every half hour, with the last bus departing Soundset Festival grounds at 9:00PM.

If you have any questions, please email soundset@rhymesayers.com with subject: Transportation.

To get to MOA on public transportation, check out this link: Metro Transit Trip Planner

Friday, May 15, 2009

Guante & Big Cats! on the MWBroadcast Mixtape


The mixtape is called "Flyover Land vol. 1," and features songs from Hieruspecs, M.anifest, Big Quarters, Muja Messiah and many more from the Twin Cities, Chicago, Madison and elsewhere in the Midwest. Our song is a studio version of my old storytelling song "Greed," which before now was only available as a jacked-beat mixtape joint or live recording. This version has a very cool beat from Big Cats! and I think people will like it. Check the blog; they might leak it before the mixtape is officially released.

Midwest Broadcast, a really good homegrown hip hop blog, put it all together.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

wow @ this Avatar casting

I never got into Avatar and don't particularly care whether the upcoming M. Night Shyalaman film based on the cartoon is any good or not, but THIS is just beyond, beyond. Images courtesy of the always great Racialicious:


Here's a link to the full article.

And another related article over at Campus Progress.

Friday, May 08, 2009

new show promo with Jeremy Messersmith

marking calendars: Fong Lee rally, Arte Sin Fronteras, EP release party

~Monday, May 11 from 8:45am until 9:45am at the Warren E. Burger Federal Building & United States Courthouse:
From Bao Phi:
Fong Lee was a 19 year old Hmong man who was shot to death by a Minneapolis police officer who was given a Medal of Valor for killing him. The reasons why the police officers approached Fong Lee in the first place strongly suggests racial profiling. The police sped across the playground in their cruiser and rammed Fong Lee's bicycle, causing him to fall from it. Fong Lee ran from the officers, and Officer Jason Anderson evidently shot him three times in the back as he ran away, then five more times in the chest as he lay on the ground.

The officer claims that Fong Lee had a gun in his hand. There are numerous discrepancies here. Watching the video, there is no gun in Fong Lee's possession. There was no fingerprints or DNA from Fong Lee on the gun, and the gun itself was traced back - to the possession of the Minneapolis Police Department itself. The community had long alleged that the officers planted the gun to justify the murder of Fong Lee.

Well, it looks like the judge threw out many of the claims:
A lot of community folks and family members have been working hard on bringing this case to light, and there will be a rally this Monday. Please come and support, and spread the word far and wide.

~Saturday, May 9 from 5pm until 10pm at El Colegio Charter School:
ART 4 JUSTICE - ARTE SIN FRONTERAS
A visual and performance arts fundraiser for immigrant rights
Exhibition, Art Sale, Peformances, Film Screening of "Un Poquito de
Tanta Verdad"
$7 donation at door, $5 donation for film only
El Colegio Charter School, 4137 Bloomington Avenue South, Mpls
Call 651-287-0660 for more info

Then of course there's the EP release party at the Nomad, Saturday, May 9 at 9pm. Featuring me, Big Cats! and our band, plus Chastity Brown, See More Perspective, the Tribe and Chantz. 21+, $5

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

also, another FREE song download from the new EP

Here's the link, courtesy of Midwest Broadcast.

The song is "The Hero," a storytelling track about institutional change and superheroes. Hope you like it.

St. Paul Slam Finals Recap

MN Mic will have a more in-depth recap, I'm sure. Just the facts:

This year, the (notoriously good) St. Paul National Poetry Slam team will be [NAMES DELETED SO NO ONE CAN RESEARCH US... not my idea, but whatever]. ...Unless any of us decide to go out for Minneapolis, which is possible since their slam finals are next Tuesday (the 12th) at Kieran's.

I ended up winning the slam by a tenth of a point.

Recap from me: I did "The Plan," a new, fairly-straightforward love poem in the first round and got a pretty low score. Then I did "Coyotes," an old/new piece (wrote it a long time ago, but revised it just recently) about men's responsibility to stop violence against women before it starts and not just get mad about it after it happens, and got a pretty high score, enough to get into the third round at least.

Then we had clean slates. I really wanted to do all-new stuff, but I chickened out and did "The Family Business" and "Starfish," the two poems I'm probably best known for. I got about eight new poems this year that I really like, but they're all just a notch below those two, in my opinion. And since there were a whole lot of new faces in the audience, I figured repeating myself a little wouldn't hurt. And I guess it didn't.

So I won, but I don't feel 100% great about it. Mlekoday, it pains me to say, probably had the best poems of the night. 6 is 9 and Sierra were great as always too. Gary Dop, who is the new face, someone I've only heard one other time, was really great; he had some funny stuff, but his serious pieces were chilling, maybe because we were all expecting more funny stuff.

All in all, it was a fun slam. Huge audience all the way up until the end. The best part was that since I made the team, I got to get on the mic at the end and promote my upcoming EP release show, SATURDAY the 9th AT THE NOMAD (9pm; $5; 21+). When it's over, I won't talk about it any more.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Chantz, Wolverine, Fall Out Boy, Poetry Slams, Twitter, etc.

So great show last night; me and Chastity Brown (along with her trio) played at Motherfools in Madison. Had a lot of fun; saw a lot of old friends. Big thanks to those who came out. Got my hot spicy cheesebread from the farmers' market the next day too. Didn't have to womp anyone in the face, even though it was the Mifflin Block Party and the streets were clogged with duuuudes. Had some chicken-fried chicken, which I suspect was actually chicken-fried-chicken-fried chicken. All in all, Madison is lovely... especially the parts where we're eating. Might have to stop at Dotty's for a basil pesto burger on the way back to the TC tomorrow. Anyways, a couple of random updates:

1. Chantz, one of the funniest, most talented and swag-tastic emcees in the Twin Cities, is officially on our label (Tru Ruts/Speakeasy Records; new website) now. Yes, we are the X-men. Chantz is Iceman because he's the youngest. If you haven't heard him yet, click his name and check out some songs, or come to the "Start a Fire" EP release party on May 9 at the Nomad; he'll be performing.

2. St. Paul Poetry Slam FINALS on May 4 at the Artists' Quarter. Minneapolis Poetry Slam FINALS on May 12 at Kieran's. I'll be competing in both. Come scream, because then maybe I'll get higher scores and can get rich and famous.

3. Tru Ruts is on Twitter now too: Twitter.com/TruRuts; I'm on there at Twitter.com/ElGuante.

4. Something I've been trying to tell people more lately: if you enjoy an independent artist, buying a CD is great, but it's not the only way to support. Find their websites or myspace pages and POST them to your facebook profile. Or write a short blog about why you like them. Or include them in a Tweet. Word-of-mouth really works.

5. Related to the above, my friend Toni, disappointed in the lack of female voices at both Rock the Bells and Soundset (two of the biggest hip hop festivals in the nation), is posting a video from a different female hip hop artist every week on her facebook, just spreading the word about the fact that yes, they exist, and yes, they're good. Simple ideas like that can have a big impact (more on this coming soon).

6. Wolverine could have been so much better. They wasted Deadpool. And I usually love superhero movies. It's just so obvious how the studio messed with the production (unless the writers were just really bad, which is possible), like when a one-line joke that's perfectly fine is delivered twice so no one misses it, or how every possible character is crammed into a movie that really doesn't need that many, or when horribly cliched scenes somehow make it past the editing process. It was nice, however, to see an Asian-American actor, Daniel Henney, get to be a bad-ass (with actual LINES) outside the realm of martial arts movies. Sure he was a villain, and yeah he died (oops, spoiler)... but he was cool.

7. Look for my review of the new Van Hunt album up on CultureBully soon.

8. Did someone finally win the Chicago/Boston series? I can only watch one overtime and then I usually have to go do something else.

9. Maybe it's because I've been working out a lot, but I find myself listening to, and appreciating, Fall Out Boy quite a bit lately. Quality song-writing (maybe not every lyric is brilliant poetry, but it at least forces you to listen, just in case), great arrangements (songs with TWO hooks are the future), a singer who can actually sing... the titanic amount of hate directed toward them is not justified, people.

10. Yeah, I probably haven't mentioned it a thousand times yet, but I have this EP release party coming up. May 9 at the Nomad. You should come. We'll be taking the act on the road this summer and into the fall too!

Friday, May 01, 2009

even MORE info on the new EP

A while ago, I posted my breakdown of the new Guante/Big Cats! EP. Now it's Big Cats!'s (how do you punctuate that?) turn.

Here's the producer's perspective.

Remember, release party May 9 at the Nomad in Minneapolis w/ Chastity Brown, See More Perspective, the Tribe and Chantz.