The mayor and the city's Department of Investigation are reprimanding a publicly funded agency for taking part in a music video made by Brooklyn rappers called "Hands Up." NY1's Dean Meminger filed the following report.
With lyrics that say a police officer should be killed, a video by Brooklyn rappers Uncle Murda and Maino called "Hands Up" is causing controversy.
The Bronx Defenders, a nonprofit legal services agency that receives millions of dollars in city funding, took part in the video. In a stinging report, the Department of Investigation slammed the Bronx Defenders.
"When an organization says it sponsors something, it means the organization is endorsing something. So in this case, they were endorsing a video that explicitly called for the killing of police officers," said Department of Investigation Commissioner Mark Peters.
DOI accuses two of the agency's lawyers of serious misconduct for acting in the video and allowing parts of it to be shot in their offices.
DOI goes on to blast the executive director for "gross mismanegement," saying she never should have let her agency be involved with the project.
The organization responded, "The Bronx Defenders never approved the music video "Hands Up" and never saw it before it went online. We deeply regret any involvement with this video."
DOI, however, says the agency knew about the lyrics and has jeopardized its credibility.
Rapper Uncle Murda tells NY1 that the Bronx Defenders didn't know what the final product would look like and says "Hands Up" is not a "cop killer" song. He says it's about unarmed black men being killed by police officers.
"It was just like, 'You know what? It's time to make a record.' And not so much of a negative record, where we're talking about, 'Yeah, let's go kill the police' or do something like that, but let's just talk about what happened and what needs to happen. Change needs to happen." Uncle Murda said.
The police union says the lawyers involved should be disbarred.
The uproar is giving Mayor Bill de Blasio a chance to stand up for police officers at a time that some officers question his support. He says the Bronx Defenders' actions were unacceptable. De Blasio is threatening legal action against the agency if it doesn't fully respond to the DOI's findings.
DOI says the agency could fire or demote those involved.