I thought maybe Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. had temporarily lost his mind.
He announced that this weekend, he will induct rapper Fat Joe into the Bronx Walk of Fame, for being “an outstanding citizen and a role model to countless Bronxites. He has positively represented the Bronx and throughout his music career has helped keep the Bronx on the ‘musical map,’ becoming one of our very own homegrown success stories.”
Diaz won my respect a long time ago for being a staunch advocate against illegal guns, and for tirelessly speaking out about crime.
He shows up where a child has been caught in crossfire, unlike our Mayor. He has a “Peace in Our Streets” Campaign. He hands out flyers telling people to hand in their illegal firearms. He issues press releases condemning the latest violence, urging people to report illegal guns to police.
I guess one can get beyond Fat Joe’s brushes with the law, and even his gangsta lyrics idolizing guns and demeaning women; most people are kind of inured to that stuff now.
But Fat Joe — aka Joseph Cartagena of the Forest Houses — sang a downright horrifying song on his 2008 album, “Elephant in the Room,” called “K.A.R.,” which stands for Kill All Rats.
The chorus is “How do we get rid of rats, in the ghetto
We kill ‘em”
Other lines are: “Trinity’s the avenue, anybody yappin’ well, they got to go
Find his whole body decomposed, black hoodie reaper clothes
Shit if his momma seen him wouldn’t even know”
And “Kill ‘em, spill ‘em, hang ‘em off the ceiling
F— it throw him off the building watch him land on his children”
and “Give a n—– his life, now he got his name on a bullet
Pull it! Pull it! N—– don’t hesitate, levitate
anybody soul who cooperates”
In the Bronx, the “Stop Snitchin’” mentality has stymied investigations into many shootings and murders, even high-profile ones. The lack of cooperation with police has reached new heights. Or should we say lows.
When two young girls were among three innocent bystanders shot March 8 at a bodega outside the Pelham Parkway Houses, Diaz issued a press release saying he was “deeply disappointed and saddened” by the incident.
The intended target refuses to give information to cops, even though his would-be killers are out there, and two young girls still suffer the effects of gunshot wounds.
The target had been present at an previous triple shooting in the neighborhood, a police source told me.
I asked the cop if it would help to shame this guy into cooperating by writing a story about him.
“No…he’ll be a hero,” he said.
Sixteen-year-old Moises (Noah) Lora was killed in the Melrose Houses on Apr. 16, by a gang of youths who beat him to a bloody pulp like something out of “Lord of the Flies.”
There were plenty of people around, and residents say the names of the attackers are known. But no one will tell cops.
When no one is apprehended, there is likely to be retribution, and each shooting begets another shooting. And on and on it goes.
Diaz has defended honoring Fat Joe because he has helped his old ‘hood, in ways such as
to Public School 146 on Cauldwell Ave., and focusing attention on fighting obesity with his own enormous weight loss.
But I think the real reason Diaz must be doing this is that he is going to persuade Fat Joe to write a new song praising people for helping to solve crime, and encouraging witnesses to senseless shootings of innocents to come forward. It won’t equate civic duty with being a rat.
This Sunday, Cartagena and the other Bronx Walk of Fame inductees–model/actor Tyson Beckford, jazz musician Valerie Capers and cinematographer Sol Negrin–will take their rightful place on the Grand Concourse when Diaz unveils street signs bearing their names.
If Fat Joe wants to return the honor, he’ll help his home borough through his rhymes. He’ll make it cool to stop the killing.
And then Diaz can put up a larger-than-life statue of him.