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Case weighs whether anti-police rap lyrics constitute threat

Written by Mark Scolforo/Associated Press | Nov 28, 2017 5:00 AM
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(Harrisburg) -- A Pennsylvania appeals court is considering whether anti-police rap lyrics amount to protected speech under the First Amendment or are a criminal threat to harm Pittsburgh police officers.

The state Supreme Court heard oral arguments Tuesday in the case of Jamal Knox, who served time in state prison for the song he recorded after being arrested on drug charges.

Questions from the justices focused on whether Knox intended it as a true threat to officers and whether the reaction to the song by police is relevant to the criminal charges.

Knox was charged after an officer found a YouTube video with Knox performing the song under the name Mayhem Mal of the Ghetto Superstar Committee.

The song mentions Richard Poplawski, who's on death row for killing three Pittsburgh police officers.

An earlier story appears below. 

(Harrisburg) -- Pennsylvania's highest court will decide whether a Pittsburgh man's anti-police rap lyrics are protected free expression or amount to witness intimidation and making terroristic threats.

The state Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on Tuesday in the case of Jamal Knox, who served state prison time for the song he recorded after being arrested on drug charges.

Knox was charged after an officer found the YouTube video, performed by Knox under the name Mayhem Mal of the Ghetto Superstar Committee.

The video taunts by name two officers involved in the drug arrest and mentions Richard Poplawski, who's on death row for killing three Pittsburgh police officers in 2009.

Knox's lawyer says he wasn't trying to intimidate the officers and didn't intend the video to be posted online.

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