Ice T Appearance Irks Mayor Flynn

Letter to Rudenstine Blasts Rapper

An appearance by controversial rap artist Ice T at the Law School earlier this week has prompted a negative response by the mayor of Boston.

In a letter to Harvard President Neil L. Rudenstine, Mayor Raymond L. Flynn said he was concerned by the University's invitation to Ice T to speak at the Law School.

The rap artist, who spoke Tuesday before a crowd of more than 300 at the Law School's Ames Courtroom, attracted national attention last year after the release of his song "Cop Killer." Critics have said that the song promotes violence against law enforcement officials.

Flynn wrote that Ice T "clearly overstepped all moral and intellectual boundaries" through the views espoused in his musical lyrics.

"There are clear moral differences between people who advocate peace and understanding, and those who advocate hatred and division." Flynn wrote. "By inviting to speak a person who shows no respect for the very difficult job [police officers] do and who advocates their physical harm, Harvard University has done a great disservice to police officers and law abiding citizens everywhere."


Rudenstine was out of town yesterday and could not be reached for comment. But Assistant Professor of Law Charles J. Ogletree Jr., who moderated a question and answer session after Ice T's speech, said last night that Flynn's reaction was "a non sequitur."

"The mayor talks about Ice T's First Amendment right to speak and then attempts to condemn Harvard for allowing him to speak," said Ogletree, whose "Saturday School" program was one of the sponsors of the rapper's appearance. "It's an effort in my view to chill the freedom of a person to talk about some important issues."

In his speech at the Law School on Tuesday, Ice T said he did not believe in the Constitution or the First Amendment because they can be manipulated by attorneys. Still, he defended his right to free expression on other grounds."

"I have the basic human right under God to say anything I want," he said. "As soon as you stand on the First Amendment, they will knock you down."

According to a spokesperson for Priority Records, the recently-named distributor of the artist's work, Ice T was on his yacht in the Mediterranean Sea last night, and was un- available for comment.

On Tuesday, though, the rapper said he was surprised by the widespread negative reaction to "Cop Killer."

"I didn't think it was a controversial record because I thought everybody hated the police," Ice T said. "Everyone I know hates the police."

Ogletree said he did not condone Ice T's message, adding that he agreed with the mayor about the difficult job of police officers today.

Ogletree said, however, that there has not been a single act of violence against law enforcement officials linked to "Cop Killer."

He also said that Ice T has played an important role in limiting violence against police officers by talking with the members of violent street gangs, particularly those in the Los Angeles area, in the wake of the riots that shook the city last year.

"[Ice T's] raising of the issue has caused a lot of police officers to be conscientious about their work," Ogletree said. "As a person who had a sister who was a police officer and who was murdered, I would certainly not endorse or condone violence of any kind against police officers."