Students at Cleveland State University were captured chanting Kendrick Lamar‘s ‘Alright’ during a protest against police harassment on Sunday (July 26) after a Black Lives Matter conference being held at the institute turned contentious.
In footage posted to YouTube, protestors are seen singing the track’s “we gon’ be alright” chorus in solidarity after a 14-year-old was taken in by police after allegedly being intoxicated on a bus across the street from the convention. According to witnesses speaking to ABC News 5 Cleveland, cops used pepper spray on the gathered crowd, something later confirmed by officials of the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority. There were no arrests.
The description for the video posted to YouTube reads: “Today after the ending of the convening as everyone was walking down the street CPD arrested a 14 yr old. While everyone was demanding his release an officer pepper sprayed the crowd and further escalated the situation. In unity and solidarity everyone was demanding that he be released, and we stayed and protested until they released him!”
‘Alright’ appears on Lamar’s latest album ‘To Pimp A Butterfly’. The song encourages listeners to stand strong through hard times, knowing better days are ahead. Despite this positive message, last month saw Geraldo Rivera, host of Fox News show The Five in the US, criticise the Compton rapper after he performed ‘Alright’ at the BET Awards on top of a vandalised police car.
Citing the stage set up and the ‘Alright’ lyric that asserts the police “wanna kill us dead in the street fo sho”, Rivera said, “This is why I say that hip-hop has done more damage to young African Americans than racism in recent years”.
TMZ caught up with Lamar a few days after the comments. He replied to questions about Rivera by asking: “How can you take a song that’s about hope and turn it into hatred?” before saying, “The message, the overall message, is we gonna be all right. It’s not the message, we gonna kill people.”
“This is our music,” he went on to say. “This is us expressing ourselves. Rather [than] going out here and doing the murders myself, I want to express myself in a positive light the same way other artists are doing. Not going out in the streets, go in the booth and talking about the situation and hoping these kids can find some type of influence on it in a positive manner. Coming from these streets and coming from these neighborhoods, we’re taking our talents and putting ’em inside the studio.”