Classic hip-hop fans know him for his music, as popular as it was during his success and just as controversial. Now, an older and wiser Ice T, the actor/rapper/producer who is recognized most as detective Odafin Tutuola on the show Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.
Still, for many police officials, he’ll be the voice behind the infamous 1992 song, “Cop Killer”, which he co-wrote. This is exactly why official in Dauphin County are concerned about Ice T‘s lecture at The Forum to raise money for crime victims.
“We’re bringing him here to address his ‘Law & Order’ fan base. We feel it’s one of the best shows on TV right now that advocates on behalf of crime victims,” said Jennifer Storm, executive director of the Victim/Witness Assistance Program.
Ice T‘s appearance on behalf of crime victims has some officials taken aback. His music has a history of depicting violence, sex and drug use, which, an argument could be made that a lot of hip-hop, new and old, suffers from some of the same stereotypes Regardless, they feel his band’s ( Body Count) performances of “Cop Killer” should keep him from speaking out on behalf of crime victims.
The song was written during a much darker period the artist experience after witnessing the videotaped beating of Rodney King by four Los Angeles police officers. The song was eventually pulled from Body Count‘s CD by their label.
“We had a couple of police officers who were a little upset because [of the song,]” Storm said. “Obviously, we don’t condone the song.”
Dauphin County commissioners denied a request made by the Victim/Witness program to be a financial sponsor for the event out of concerns about the speaker.
Though Ice T has been delivering speeches about the dangers of drug use and gang violence, the sexually suggestive images of his wife, Coco, and images of weapons found on his official Web site seemed inconsistent with that message, the commissioners said.
“Things on the Web site are not consistent with what we would promote,” Commissioner Nick DiFrancesco said.
Commissioners George Hartwick and Jeff Haste expressed similar concerns. But they did not discourage anyone from attending the event openly. DiFrancesco and Hartwick will be in the audience though.
“There is probably a lot that can be learned from this guy,” DiFrancesco said.
Storm said that was precisely why her agency sought Ice T for the event.
Ice T is a former member of the infamous “Crips” gang in Los Angeles, made an anti-gang violence video in 1988 and testified before Congress on the issue.
“His lyrics speak to a lot of people about the tragedy of gang violence,” Storm said. “He’s the best person to come and do what we need him to do.”