Hip hop mogul and superstar Jay-Z and his pop icon wife, Beyoncé, secretly wired “tens of thousands” of dollars to activists in Baltimore to pay bail for protesters arrested during the civil unrest following the death, in police custody, of 25-year-old Freddie Gray in that city, according to a report in the online magazine Complex.
The death of Gray has since been ruled a homicide.
But the writer and activist who revealed the generous donations on her Twitter account quickly deleted the tweets announcing the financial contributions from the music industry’s top power couple because, she said, Jay-Z and Beyoncé prefer to keep their involvement in social and political causes behind-the-scenes.
Jay-Z “would be pi-issed to see I was offering evidence” that he supported the Baltimore protesters in such a direct and material way, wrote dream hampton, an author and activist who collaborated with Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter on his bestselling book Decoded. (Note that hampton chooses to spell her name in all lower-case letters.)
Beyoncé and Jay-Z traveled to Baltimore and met with family of Freddie Gray, as well as family members of Michael Brown, the teenager slain by a police officer last year in Ferguson, Missouri, last year — an incident that set off rioting in that city.
“When we needed money for bail for Baltimore protesters, I hit Jay up, as I had for Ferguson, (he) wired tens of thousands,” wrote hampton on her Twitter feed, before soon deleting the message.
But before the hampton tweets vanished, Complex magazine captured them from the web.
In the tweets, hampton also said that the “Carters wrote a huge check” to help create “infrastructure” for the burgeoning “Black Lives Matter” movement that took shape after the police killings of Brown and several other African-American men in 2014.
In fact, the writer continued, Jay-Z and Beyoncé also do “more stuff, too much to list actually, that they always insist folk keep quiet.”
She said that financial support, such as the apparently large amounts provided by the pop culture power couple, is necessary for social justice movements because the political system is “waging war on black resistance in a multitude of ways, many of them financially. Protest is literally punished with tariffs. When they fine & arrest people for protesting, more opportunities for exploitation by the state are possible with each encounter.”
Just minutes after that final Twitter message on Sunday morning, hampton reported that she received a text from someone — presumably Jay-Z or Beyoncé — telling her to “shut the f*** up and head to brunch.” At which point, she deleted the sequence of tweets.
[Image: Larry Busacca / Getty Images]