Tupac Shakur was about that action.

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For all the conversations about the subject matter of his songs being derogatory, few talk about him as a true rider for the community.

Like that one time on Halloween 1993 when Shakur drove past two drunk off duty officers, in Atlanta, and confronted them for uttering a racial slur. There have been conflicting accounts that the cops were harming a person of color, but many transcripts do not have that information.


According to some of the eye witness accounts, it was one of the officers who first drew and possibly fired a gun. Although no weapons were recovered.

Clayton County police officer Mark Whitwell and his brother, Henry County police officer Scott Whitwell, were wounded in the incident.

Scott Whitwell, who admitted to possessing a gun he had taken from the Henry County property room, said he felt threatened when Shakur and his colleagues got out of their Mercedes Benz.

At the time, one witness who identified Shakur as having fired a gun following the incident admitted in court that darkness may have obscured his vision.

Three 9 mm bullet casings were found in the area following the shooting.

Court testimony also indicated that racial slurs may have played a part in the incident.

What Should A Bystander Do?

However, it revives the conversation about the bystander effect with police brutality. One of the most traumatic experiences ever is being assaulted by law enforcement.

Whether verbal or physical, it can be very painful and paralyze those watching. It harkens back to the era where overseers regulated plantation politics keeping everyone under the thumb of suspicion.

When the overseer singled out “wrongdoing” they made the punishment a degrading spectacle. Anyone watching knew this could be their fate: a back filled with welts from the lash.

They knew not to save their fellow enslaved.

However, Tupac Shakur, was raised by a Black Panther. He was the son of Afeni Shakur, who in the early ’70s was among the New York 21. The group of Black Panthers accused of plotting bombings in New York; all were acquitted.

Ms. Shakur was released from jail when she was eight months’ pregnant with Tupac. At the time in 1993, Shakur’s publicist, Taliba Mbonisi, said Tupac Shakur’s “revolutionary credentials are in his blood.”

It was those credentials that he displayed fervently when he saw wrongdoing to someone he didn’t even know. Just that he was also of color and in need of an assist from law enforcement.

The Verdict

Tupac Shakur, then 22 years-old, pleaded innocent to aggravated assault charges. Shakur shot one officer in the buttocks and the other in the back/abdomen area.

Shakur was charged in the shooting and Mark Whitwell was charged with firing at Shakur’s car and later lying to the investigation.

However, eventually, prosecutors dropped all charges against Tupac saying that he had acted in self-defense. Mark Whitwell was eventually charged with lying to the police about what happened and for shooting at Tupac first.

The purpose of re-hashing this is not to condone violence against anyone! But recognizing that fear can stop you from protecting yourself when that is what is needed most is tantamount during these times.