Instagram rap tribute to dead boy lands UK teenager in court for ‘hate crime’

A police officer whose brother was killed in a savage racist attack told a teenage woman in court why it is “offensive and upsetting” to both black and white people to use the ‘n’ word in any context.

Apr 23, 2018
By Nick Hudson

Chelsea Russell posted a photo with lyrics from US rapper Snap Dogg’s song <i>I’m Trippin’</i> on social media to pay tribute to a 13-year-old boy who died in a road accident last year.

Russell argued that the use of the lyrics ‘kill a snitch n**** and rob a rich n****’ – copied from a friend’s Instagram account – were used by thousands of people in memory of Frankie Murphy.

But Sefton Magistrates Court heard that Merseyside Police was anonymously sent a screenshot of the Instagram account update – and she was charged with a hate crime.

The content was passed to Police Constable Dominique Walker, whose brother, Anthony, was killed when two cousins ambushed him and embedded a mountaineering axe in his skull in July 2005. A judge called the killing an act of “racist thuggery of a type poisonous to any civilised society”. One of the killers was Michael Barton, 17-year-old brother of footballer Joey Barton.

PC Walker told the court that she found the words on Russell’s Instagram account grossly offensive.

She said: “As a black woman I found the words offensive and upsetting. The words are offensive to both black and white people.”

PC Walker also asked Carole Clarke, defending, not to use the word n**** in the court because she found it so offensive.

Ms Clarke argued that the meaning of the ‘n’ word had changed over time because it had been popularised by rap artists such as Eminem and Kanye West, with Jay Z using the words in front of thousands of people at the Glastonbury festival.

She also pointed out that Russell had spelt the ‘n’ word ending in the letter ‘a’ rather than ‘er’, quoting an urban dictionary definition that said the word ending in the letter ‘a’ meant a ‘black man wearing a gold chain’.

But PC Walker said that the ‘n’ word was always offensive, and it did not matter how the word was spelt.

Police Constable Rob Jones told the court that the Snap Dogg lyrics were reported to him last August and Russell was invited to attend a voluntary interview at a police station during which time she accepted that she had posted the content to her Instagram account, but had argued that the lyrics were not offensive.

He said that in his time with the force he had always understood the ‘n’ word to be racist and offensive.

Russell was found guilty of sending a grossly offensive message by a public communication and handed an eight-week community order. She was also placed on an eight-week curfew restricting her movements between 8pm and 8am for eight weeks, tagged, and ordered to pay costs totaling £585. 


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