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Posted by Robert
Rap News Network
3/20/2004 12:15:56 PM

Tags and topics realted to this article include Various Artists.

Following a Herald report that local police agencies keep tabs on hip-hop stars and their entourages, the head of Miami Beach's Black Host Committee announced on Friday that the organization plans to conduct a public symposium to help police learn about hip-hop culture.

At the same press conference, Miami Beach police denied having a policy of singling out rap stars for surveillance.

''As in any major event . . we reach out to point people to gather information for public safety reasons,'' said Police Chief Donald De Lucca at a press conference in City Hall. ``Nowhere are we singling out any person or party or individual -- that would be very unfair.''

In a previous Herald story, Assistant Police Chief Charles Press said that the history of certain rap stars, some of whom have been the target of violence in the past, caused police to create a system to understand and protect the artists when they come to the city. He told The Herald that detectives routinely monitor hip-hop magazines and websites and keep track of where artists stay when they visit.

A March 9 Herald story described how officers from the Miami and Miami Beach police departments have quietly monitored hip-hop stars and their entourages since 2001, when an influx of rap fans over Memorial Day Weekend overwhelmed police.

Earlier this week, Miami Police Chief John Timoney held a press conference to deny that his department conducts such surveillance or has photographed hip-hop stars and their entourages, despite officers from his department who said on the record that they had gathered intelligence and photographed them.

He did acknowledge that Miami officers had gone to New York City last year to attend a training seminar on hip-hop and came back with a binder containing photos of rappers and their criminal histories.

Miami Beach police have admitted to going to New York twice, but they denied receiving any binder.

Henry Crespo, the chairman of the Miami Beach Black Host Committee, which was created by the city's mayor to help improve its relationship with black residents and visitors, said that he believed the statements by De Lucca and Mayor David Dermer indicating that the city's police do not engage in ``spying and monitoring on rappers.''

''They are appalled by these allegations, and of course we support them on that issue,'' he said. However, Crespo and members of the committee suggest that the police department should rethink the way they gather information about the hip-hop industry.

The proposed public symposium would bring in academics to discuss the history of hip-hop and its development into a $10 billion industry in the United States, Crespo said.

''If the police department here in Miami Beach needs to understand hip-hop culture, we can provide a forum for them,'' Crespo said.

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