Atlanta’s Fulton County DA Says She’s Getting Death Threats Over RICO Against Young Thug And YSL

Atlanta’s Fulton County DA Says She’s Getting Death Threats Over RICO Against Young Thug And YSL

Fulton County

Photo: Atlanta rapper Young Thug aka Jeffery Lamar Williams (Fulton County Sheriff’s Office via AP) / Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis (AP Photo/Ben Gray)

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis said she has been getting death threats since she announced indictments in May against hip-hop artists Young Thug, Gunna, and other members of Young Stoner Life Records (YSL) on racketeering charges.

Prosecutors say the superstar hip-hop artist and several members of his YSL clique are part of a criminal organization. 

They were hit on May 10 with a 52-count RICO indictment. RICO — the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act — is a federal law that allows for prosecution and civil penalties for racketeering activity. It was originally used in the 1970s to prosecute the Mafia and others involved in ongoing organized crime.

Willis told WSB-TV she received numerous threats on her life regarding both her handling of the YSL case as well as her push to create a special grand jury to investigate efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in Georgia, HipHopDX reported.

“I’m much more cautious than I’ve ever been in my life, of paying attention to my surroundings,” Willis said, alluding to the fact she’s added extra security detail. “It’s required for me to stay alive.”

“Basically,” she added, “they’re going to murder me, that the DA is going to get got. I’m not going to be intimidated from doing [my job] and doing it in a correct fashion and holding people accountable. We don’t believe these threats were directed by anyone in the YSL indictment. I would say that people are very sympathetic, maybe admirers of YSL and connected to them in some sense.”

Willis said she received just as many threats from YSL admirers as from Donald Trump supporters due to the special grand jury, according to Complex. “Oh, it is definitely a significant driver of the heightened security,” Willis said. “People are angry about that investigation. People are angry about investigations into gangs, so each of those things plays a factor.”

Trump has not shared any posts targeting her on social media, Willis said, although she suggested her movements have been under surveillance by an unnamed party.

Other officials involved in the YSL case are also receiving threats, and police are taking the threats seriously.  WSB-TV reported that 18-year-old Quartavius Mender was arrested after he threatened the life of Fulton County Sheriff Pat Labat and his wife on social media.

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In the indictment, the prosecutors used lyrics as evidence from various Young Thug songs. Music execs Kevin Liles and Julie Greenwald have launched a petition against law officials using hip-hop lyrics as evidence.

Liles, co-founder of record label 300 Entertainment, and Atlantic Records Chief Operating Officer Greenwald want to ban lyrics from being used as criminal confessions, Complex reported.

The petition, “Rap Music on Trial: Protect Black Art,” points out how prosecutors have attempted to use hip-hop lyrics in court, such as in the case against Young Thug, Gunna, and their YSL associates. “In the indictment, Fulton County prosecutors argue that lyrics like ‘ready for war like I’m Russia’ are a confession of criminal intent,” reads the petition, which calls to protect Black art and the First Amendment.

“Weaponizing creative expression against artists is obviously wrong. But what gets us so upset is what’s happening to Young Thug, Gunna, and YSL is just the most high-profile case,” said Liles and Greenwald in a joint statement. “In courtrooms across America, Black creativity and artistry is being criminalized. With increasing and troubling frequency, prosecutors are attempting to use rap lyrics as confessions, just like they’re doing in this case.” 

Photo: Atlanta rapper Young Thug aka Jeffery Lamar Williams was one of 28 people indicted May 9, 2022, in Georgia on conspiracy to violate the state’s RICO act and street gang charges (Fulton County Sheriff’s Office via AP) / Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis looks at jurors, May 2, 2022, at a hearing on the actions of former President Donald Trump and his supporters who tried to overturn the results of the 2020 election, Atlanta. (AP Photo/Ben Gray)