Art Not Evidence Campaign Challenges Use of Rap Lyrics in Legal Proceedings

UK Group Advocates for Fairer Legal System, Urging Restrictions on Artistic Expression as Court Evidence

In a bold move against the use of rap lyrics and videos as evidence in courtrooms, the UK-based group Art Not Evidence has launched a compelling campaign. Comprising youth workers, lawyers, academics, musicians, journalists, and industry professionals, the group penned an open letter to the Secretary of State for Justice, declaring their mission to advocate for a fairer legal system.

The letter asserts that creative and artistic expression, including music, should be safeguarded as fundamental forms of freedom of expression, urging restrictions on their use as evidence in criminal trials. Collaborating with the University of Manchester’s Prosecuting Rap project, Art Not Evidence revealed that over the past three years, rap evidence has been utilized in over 70 cases involving more than 240 defendants, predominantly young Black men and teenagers.

The Met Police’s Project Alpha, initiated in 2019, has focused on social media, making 1,825 removal requests to YouTube in the previous year alone. Recent data obtained by DJ Mag indicates that 64% of TikTok content removal referrals from London’s Metropolitan Police during the 2022/23 financial year were linked to UK drill music.

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High-profile figures supporting the Art Not Evidence campaign include MPs Nadia Whittome and Kim Johnson, Shami Chakrabarti, and Annie Mac. Whittome, MP for Nottingham East, plans to introduce new legislation in the next parliamentary session, drafted by Art Not Evidence, aiming to impose more stringent rules on the use of creative expressions as evidence.

For further details about the campaign and to support the cause, you can sign the open letter. Additionally, explore Will Pritchard’s recent investigation into the impact of takedowns on artists in the UK drill and rap scene and learn more about the crucial work of the Manchester-based research project, Prosecuting Rap, fighting against the use of rap lyrics in court.

#ArtNotEvidence #LegalJustice #ProtectArtisticExpression

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