Jay-Z buys full-page ads dedicated to George Floyd

The powerful ad includes signatures from parents of unarmed civilians killed by police.
June 3, 2020 1:51 p.m. EST
June 5, 2020 3:22 p.m. EST
Jay-Z is continuing to use his massive platform to show his support for the Black Lives Matter movement. On Tuesday, Jay-Z and his Roc Nation organization took out full page ads in major newspapers across the U.S. in honour of George Floyd, the Minneapolis man who was murdered on May 25 while being arrested. The emotional and powerful ad included a quote from Martin Luther King, Jr., as well as the names of parents who have lost their children to police brutality.Released under Team Roc, the philanthropic arm of Roc Nation, the ad opens with an excerpt from MLK’s speech given during the March 1965 marches in Selma, Alabama. “A man dies when he refuses to stand up for that which is right. A man dies when he refuses to stand up for justice. A man dies when he refuses to take a stand for that which is true,” reads the speech. “So we’re going to stand up amid horses. We’re going to stand up right here, amid the billy-clubs. We’re going to stand up right here amid police dogs, if they have them. We’re going to stand up amid tear gas!”[video_embed id='1970188']RELATED: How music's biggest names are showing solidarity for protests[/video_embed]Signed by Floyd’s attorneys, The Innocence Project, Until Freedom, The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Van Jones’ Reform Alliance and the Women’s Global Initiative, the ad is a chilling reminder that little has changed in the 55 years since MLK first said these words. The powerful ad also contains the signatures of the parents of Botham Jean, DJ Henry and Antwon Rose II, three unarmed Black civilians who were killed by police officers. They were real people with real families and cannot be forgotten.

Jay-Z’s choice of highlighting MLK’s speech given during the marches from Selma, Alabama to the state capitol in Montgomery was a poignant decision. The marches were done by non-violent activists who wanted to highlight racial injustice in the South and demand the right to vote. The marches were in response to the arrests of 3,000 civil rights protesters, which took place between January and February 1965, and the death of deacon Jimmie Lee Jackson, who had been shot and killed during a peaceful protest by a State Trooper. MLK’s description of the events in the mid 1960s mirror the current state of the U.S., where peaceful participants have found themselves arrested and in many cases severely injured by rubber bullets and tear gas fired by police officers and members of the military who have been deployed to residential areas.

Appearing in major U.S. newspapers like the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, the Chicago Tribune and the Philadelphia Enquirer, the ad arrives two days after Jay-Z spoke with Minnesota Governor Tim Walz. At a press conference on Sunday, Walz confirmed that the Grammy winner had phoned him earlier that day to offer his support and express his concerns over how the criminal case against Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin would be handled. “It was so incredibly human,” said Walz. “It wasn’t Jay-Z, international celebrity. It was a dad and, I think quite honestly, a black man whose visceral pain of this that he knew.”

On Sunday evening, Walz announced that former congressman and Democratic National Committee chair nominee Keith Ellison would be taking over Floyd’s case, a move that Jay-Z applauded on social media. At this time, the three other officers who were present during Floyd’s death have been fired but not charged. Ellison has said that he is focused on ensuring that justice is served and has been hesitant to press charges but noted that he expects charges to be laid ‘soon.’ “I need to protect this prosecution,” Ellis told CNN on Sunday. “I am not going to create a situation where people can say this was a rush to judgment.”

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