The Atlanta Objective: A Rap Jubilee
Young Thug and Gunna paid the bail of SIX people -- not 30 as reported -- at Fulton County Jail over the weekend. One was a murder suspect who is back in jail now. What was this?
Sergio “Gunna” Kitchens and Jeffrey “Young Thug” Williams, two of the biggest Atlanta rap stars today, dropped by the Fulton County jail over the weekend to bail out six people.
“We just woke up, went to the jail with the lawyer … the DA's, the prosecutors, the bonding companies, and got as many people as we can out, like 20 or 30 people,” Young Thug said to Channel 2’s Michael Seiden … who just happened to get word of the pair’s good deeds.
There were not 30 people bailed out, according to jail records and the bonding agent. Only six, all of whom faced relatively serious charges.
“If they did the crime, then they can do the time, then it’s aiight,” Young Thug said. “But it’s like you’re giving them a bond higher than what they stole.”
YSL records gave Channel 2 video of the release of the prisoners. The clip shows the reunion of a young man with his young son. It also shows a cameraman three feet from that man’s face — amid dozens of people getting out of the jail — cued up for the kid running to hug his dad.
Seiden described this as “a random act of kindness.” Here’s the thing. Those were not six random people.
The rappers walked into Rice Street with a list, said Tracey Flanagan, spokeswoman for the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office. At the top of the list was an accused murderer.
Adam Byrd is accused of murdering Dominic King in a hotel walkway on Fulton Industrial Boulevard in 2017. King’s murder was captured on surveillance video. Byrd has pleaded self-defense; King shoved him before being shot to death, but King was running away when Byrd opens fire on the video.
Byrd had served a sentence as a first-time offender as a 17-year-old, on aggravated assault and robbery charges for beating a man with crutches. Byrd had been caught and charged twice for being a felon in possession of a firearm between then and the 2017 murder case.
Byrd’s bond was set at $239,000. The court actually ordered Byrd’s bond revoked in February but the system somehow missed that revocation order.
Two days after Gunna and Young Thug bailed Byrd out, the court withdrew bond, declaring him a flight risk. Byrd is back in jail and awaiting trial later this year.
The others include people facing drug possession and distribution charges, assault charges and burglary charges, all felonies.
So. What the hell was this stunt?
It’s hard to accept on its face the suggestion that Young Thug and Gunna just decided on a lark to spring people facing unjust bail when they walked into the jail with Byrd’s name at the top of their list. Byrd’s bond was higher than all the other defendant’s combined.
A “bond higher than what they stole,” Young Thug said, knowing he was bailing out a murder suspect.
I asked for the list of people the YSL labelmates released because I’ve been intensely curious about the connection between Atlanta’s music industry and the spike in violence over the last couple of years. Rappers keep getting killed here, and I don’t think it’s a product of random violence.
The assembled media — Complex, Revolt TV, BET, others — accepted this act of generosity on its face without asking the questions I would expect of journalists. Neither did Channel 2’s Seiden. They’re getting played.