Roc Nation and XO rapper Belly has no fear in aligning his personal experiences with his art. With this latest effort, Immigrant, he focused on shedding light on the harsh realities that many face in America. But the work of the Palestinian-Canadian artists is also leading him to tackle prison reform.
Earlier this month, Belly detailed he has joined the Mass Bail Out Action, which is led by the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Group, a non-profit organization that attacks the practice of the destruction of black and brown communities due high bail amounts that are unable to be paid. By doing so, children and women will be freed and would reduce the number of both who are confined to Rikers Island. The end goal of the effort is to shut down Rikers sooner than the targeted date.
Belly shared his union with the NPO by stating his efforts are dedicated toward inspiration of others to do the same and make a change.
“Not being able to afford bail is a terrible and unjust reason for someone to sit in a cage. I helped bail out a young woman that couldn’t afford to post her bail,” Belly typed. “I’m only posting this to inspire others in my position to take action.”
That woman he spoke on was granted a $25,000 bail by Belly. He would tell Billboard “For me, it just doesn’t make sense that somebody could be out the same day or not have to serve a day in jail because they have better resources. Once you take the cash out of the equation, I think more people would get a fair shake.”
The efforts and providing a fair chance to victims of a flawed justice system is met with resistance from New York City officials. Within a three day span, The New York Times published articles acknowledging the efforts of the campaign and the presumed danger that the city elected officials believed would be a result. The efforts of the organization recruited 200 volunteers to assist in the bailouts of those women and children from a population of the 80 percent of the inmates who were just sitting due to not having resources for bail. Over 75 percent are freed without sentencing.
“We are doing all we can to protect our victims and witnesses in the event the defendants accused of violence against them are released from jail,” Darcel D. Clark, the Bronx district attorney, said to the Times back in September.
That message was opposed by Ms. Kennedy who stood behind the cause and cited the privileged like Harvey Weinstein who was able to afford bail, were able to move forward with their lives and await their further legal issues from their home, foregoing any Rikers time.
The Mass Bail Out efforts have expanded and Belly isn’t the only member of the Hip-Hop community who has worked for the cause. French Montana, Common Miguel have contributed, while the Breakfast Club offered a platform to spread the message and work of the group.
To learn more about the New York efforts of Mass Bail Out be sure to visit their website here.
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proud and honored to be part of @massbailout . Not being able to afford bail is a terrible and unjust reason for someone to sit in a cage. I helped bail out a young woman that couldn’t afford to post her bail. I’m only posting this to inspire others in my position to take action. happy Sunday everybody ? s\o @ericaford_ilovemylife #immigrant ?: @majikfilms