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Online rap video urges killing Pittsburgh police

| Friday, Nov. 16, 2012, 9:14 a.m.

Pittsburgh police are investigating an online rap video that mentions convicted cop killer Richard Poplawski and advocates killing city officers.

Police learned of the video, titled “(Expletive) the Police,” on Thursday. Someone has since removed it from YouTube.

Warrants were issued Friday for Rashee Beasley, 20, of Garfield, and Jamal Knox, 18, of East Liberty, charging them with making terroristic threats, witness intimidation and related crimes.

Beasley and Knox have been arrested by officers from the city's Highland Park Zone 5 station. The video names at least one officer who patrols there.

Lyrics include “Like poplawski im strapped nasty” and “lets kill these cops cause they aint doing us no good,” police said.

“We are taking this very seriously,” police spokeswoman Diane Richard said. She declined to comment further.

Poplawski received a death sentenced for fatally shooting three Pittsburgh police officers on April 4, 2009, when they responded to a domestic call at his mother's Stanton Heights home.

University of Pittsburgh law professor David Harris said artistic expression is protected by the First Amendment, but that protection does not necessarily extend to threats against a specific individual or an attempt to incite violence. He did not see the video.

“No matter whether the thing is in terrible taste or even offensive in a very basic way, well, it's not against the law to say stuff like that,” Harris said. “To make a general statement that is very pointed and unfortunate and stupid, but is not meant to be an instruction of any kind, that's not a threat.”

Margaret Harding is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-8519.

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