On a special report conducted by MSNBC’s Ari Melber, Tupac Shakur’s police brutality experience is highlighted in a segment titled ‘So Many Tears’. Various interviews from the Hip Hop icon are used as Tupac spoke about social issues that we are facing now twenty-five years later.
October 1991, in Oakland, California, a twenty-year-old Tupac Shakur was walking across the street on 17th and Broadway. It was at this time when he was approached by two police officers, who would accuse Shakur of jaywalking.
During the stop, the officers gave Shakur a hard time and ridiculed him when he stated his name was Tupac. The officers would eventually bash ‘Pac’s face repeatedly to the ground, leaving him badly bruised and unconscious.
“For everybody who don’t know, as if it doesn’t happen every day, everywhere: I, an innocent young black male, was walking down the streets of Oakland minding my own business,” Tupac explained during an interview. “Next thing I knew I was in a chokehold, passing out.”
At the time Shakur had net yet released his debut album ‘2pacalypse Now’. An album which touched on social issues, racism, police brutality, and teenage pregnancy. With songs such as ‘Trapped’ and ‘Brenda’s Got A Baby’, Tupac would make his presence felt in the music industry that still lives on today.
“He [Tupac] filed a lawsuit and held a public address about it, stressing this was a routine practice against black men,” Ari Melber said. “He said he hoped to draw more scrutiny to this because while he was famous for his music, others wouldn’t get the same attention.”
Tupac would end up winning the civil lawsuit against the Oakland police department, who settled and paid Shakur $42,000.
Ari Melber stresses that in 2020, not much has changed. “People are asking America to get the police to stop abusing and killing them. In 1970. In 1991, you just saw, and now in 2020,” Melber said.
The special report closes with one of Tupac Shakur’s most infamous interviews conducted by MTV. An interview conducted two years after Shakur’s experience with police brutality. Tupac explained the build up in frustration of waiting for change to come.
“We ASKED 10 years ago. We was ASKING with the Panthers, we was ASKING with the Civil Rights Movement. Now, those people that were ASKING are now all dead and in jail. So now, what do you think we’re gonna do? ASK?,” Tupac Shakur during a 1994 MTV interview.