Drill rap videos have helped New York City police officials arrest twenty gang members for violent crimes.  The arrests further escalate the conversation about the apparent ‘causation’ link between drill rap and violence.

Drill Rappers

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The Case Against Drill Rap

Drill rap music videos recently helped cops arrest and indict twenty gang members, four of them being adolescents. The indictments pertain to crimes committed in the Bronx where residents were shot or stabbed in a period of deadly violence that lasted over three years. 

Many violent acts were revealed in the eighty-two count indictment that detailed murders or attempted murders. One particular incident just last year involved the shooting death of a twenty-year-old Bronx woman.  She was gunned down at close range in an apartment that was known to the police as a gang hangout.

The indictment also covered thirty-two violent crimes over the course of thirty-six months. These included emboldened shootings occurring in broad-daylight.  Some of these shootings were later bragged about in drill rap songs, said authorities.

The arrests made in “Operation Drilly” resulted in the recovery of eighteen guns as well as charges of murder, attempted murder, manslaughter, weapons possession, assault, and grand larceny. 

“The defendants allegedly committed multiple shootings, some in broad daylight, killing two people and injuring innocent bystanders,” said Bronx DA Darcel Clark. “These defendants terrorized residents of the Fordham/Bedford Park neighborhoods who were forced to run for their lives as bullets flew.”

The victims included twenty-year-old Delila Vasquez, who was shot in the head in an empty third-floor apartment on Hull Ave. in Norwood on March 17, 2021. It also includes 24-year-old James Rivera, who was killed on July 20, 2020, when six attackers chased him along Decatur Ave. Police said at least four of them had guns shot at Rivera multiple times.  When Rivera fell to the ground one of the attackers stabbed him. Rivera later died of a gunshot wound to the back.

“Today’s sweeping indictment highlights the focused efforts that continue to identify the relatively small percentage of people responsible for much of our city’s crime and disorder,’ said Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell. “We vow to keep dismantling gangs and crews, and working hard to prevent the senseless violence so often associated with their activities.”

The Drill Rap-Violence Connection

According to prosecutors, suspects were alleged members of the G-Side/Drilly gang responsible for dozens of acts of violence in the areas of East Gun Hill Road, Hull Ave. and Decatur Ave. between September 20, 2018 and March 15, 2022. These shootings and stabbings left six people wounded.

The defendants, according to authorities, thrive within the Drill rap scene, where they allegedly boasted about the acts of violence in music videos that were posted on YouTube and Instagram live. These videos would often challenge rivals and directly lead to violent acts soon after, Clark said.

“It was senseless violence,” Clark said. “It was beefs and slights and disrespects that all drove some of these incidents. We’re doing all that we can to deal with and battle the guns scourge that is happening here in the Bronx. But more must be done to deviate these young people from the life of gangs and senseless violence. We do need to do more.”

Three defendants were also charged for allegedly committing an act of violence while they were being held at Rikers Island.

The NY Drill rap scene was pioneered by Bobby Shmurda,  who had served seven years in prison for conspiracy and weapons possession. As the music exploded on social media, people like Mayor Adams, point to the correlating links between the hardcore lifestyle the music portrays and real-life violence. 

Drill rappers taunt rivals in their lyrics and videos that poured fire on gang beefs, NYPD officials have told the Daily News.  New York City has seen the murders of at least three young rising drill rap stars in the last year, resulting in Mayor Adams and others to call for it to be banned on social media platforms.

Innocent Victims Caught In The CrossFire

Many of those arrested in Thursday’s takedown had previous gun charges, said Deputy Chief Jason Savino, who commanded the NYPD’s gun violence suppression division. Donjuan Patterson, 17, and Omar Gibbs, 20, are two out of the twenty arrested and are both from the Bronx with six combined gun arrests. As a whole, the group had 26 prior busts for firearm possession and there was an untraceable ghost gun among the weapons seized, cops said.

The gang, Savino said, was a particularly ruthless and violent group, conducting “wolf pack-like searches” for their targets, with six to 12 people armed with multiple guns, along with makeshift weapons, chasing and firing shots at lone victims. 

However, there was collateral damage as many of the bullets ended up in community spaces such as a nursing home on Gun Hill Road that had a door window shot out.  A shooting at a middle school that was dismissing resulted in students forced to run for cover with their backpacks on, Savino said.

Walter Fields Jr, a defense lawyer representing one of the indicted teens, Brayan Hernandez, 17, AKA Breezo, said, ”My client is totally innocent. He was swept up in a far-reaching investigation that he had nothing at all to do with. He doesn’t have any affiliation with drill rap or gangs. They just swept up kids off the streets that live in one area. It’s shameful that the Bronx DA’s office sweeps up people without proper evidence.”