Activists claiming bias in probation case involving rapper
Both national and community activists are claiming racial bias in a Waterloo probation case. And a town hall event set for Wednesday evening in Waterloo is trying to focus more attention on the case.
Antonio King, 26, remains in custody at the Newton Correction Center after his probation on drug charges in Waterloo was revoked last summer.
King, a Chicago-area rapper, goes by the stage name “600 Breezy.”
And his supporters say his Iowa probation was wrongfully revoked just months before it was set to expire.
The Black Lawyers for Justice national group has gotten involved in King’s case.
President Malik Shabazz cites both national and local statistics as evidence of possible bias in dispensing justice in Iowa.
The African-American population in Waterloo is nine percent of the total. Yet, black defendants in Waterloo are jailed at a rate nine times that of white defendants.
Supporters say King, or 600 Breezy, was getting known for his reputation as a rapper and was invited by singer Drake early last year to go on a tour to Canada.
But there was a complication.
King was still on probation from a Waterloo drug conviction in 2012. He lived in Illinois and reported regularly to probation officials in that state.
Illinois probation officers told King he needed permission from Iowa probation to leave the country.
King’s Iowa attorney, Tina Muhammed, said things went wrong when he returned to Iowa to resolve the situation.
“When he went to court on June 2nd, he only had three months left on his five-year probation. None of that was counted by the judge and he was sentenced to start serving the whole ten years,” Muhammed said.
Supporters met outside the Black Hawk County Courthouse Wednesday to answer questions about the case.
They complained that the Iowa probation officials looked up King’s social media record and found evidence of trips outside Illinois taken without permission.
Officers also saw photos of King with drugs and guns, another probation violation.
Shabazz says white defendants caught with such violations might get lenient treatment, especially when they are close to leaving probation.
But not black defendants.
“We find justice is not meted out equally. We find justice tempered with mercy if you are a white defendant,” Shabazz said.
Black Hawk County Attorney Brian Williams said he couldn’t speak about why the judge ordered King to serve his sentence last June.
But Williams did say he “believed King was no longer in compliance with probation” when his office sought the revocation last summer.
King’s attorney says there are no hearings scheduled for the rapper and friends and family have a decision to make about taking the case to the Iowa Supreme Court.
The Town Hall event in Waterloo begins at 6:00 p.m. at the Waterloo Center for the Arts, 225 Commercial Street.