When Verbal Kent first heard about how Sheriff Joe Arpaio paraded 200 shackled Hispanic inmates through the streets of downtown Phoenix last week, the enraged Chicago-based hip-hop artist took action immediately.
Kent phoned his friends in the Valley, the promoters behind the weekly GALLERY BLU re:DEF hip-hop night at the Stray Cat in Tempe. The guys, including P-Town's MC Rashenal (a.k.a. Josh Bolick), all began organizing a special event designed to raise awareness of Sheriff Joe's dastardly actions both past and present.
The result? Tonight's edition of GALLERY BLU re:DEF, which has been dubbed "Stop the Circus: Fight for Tolerance. Stop Arpaio."
"What Sheriff Joe did by parading Latinos around like that was an absolute travesty," says Rashenal. "It's inhuman and racially motivated. Verbal and I felt like we needed to do something to fight back."
Verbal, who's a member of racial equality group Campaign for a United America, is bringing in some heavy hitters to aid the cause, including alternative/underground hip-hop stars One Be Lo and Wordsworth. They'll be dissing Arpaio alongside local rappers G-Owens, Fiyah Station, and Nobuddie.
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The event will be taped and later uploaded to the Internet in the hopes of raising awareness in both the local and national hip-hop community.
"We want to unite the hip-hop community against Sheriff Joe and present an organized front," Rashenal says.
"Stop the Circus" runs from 8:30 p.m. until 2 a.m. with no cover all night. The Stray Cat Bar & Grill is located at 2433 East University Drive in Tempe. Call 480-967-1040.