A week ago Joseph Washington, a student at Matanzas High School, was called into the dean’s office over a dress cove violation. He was wearing a shirt “inappropriate for school,” according to his arrest report. When an administrator addressed the situation with him, Washington allegedly told him to “suck my dick.”
That would be among the gentlest of Washington’s language in what followed–a long song he wrote and posted on SoundCloud as a succession of obscenities, racism, sexual put-downs, misogynism, and explicit threats to kill not only the administrator, who is apparently named in the song, but his wife.
The rap, set to a simple metronomic theme, accompanies lyrics of extremely violent and seething imagery that recall a pair of Flagler Palm Coast High School student’s written, racist threats against a teacher, those exchanged during class in December 2018 through an instant-messaging application. One of the students left the country. The other, charged with a second-degree felony, was a minor, and was sentenced to probation. Those threats had upended the teacher’s and her family’s life and resulted in an extended leave, though the teacher forgave the girl at trial.
In the case involving Washington, the administrator–a 31-year-old dean at Matanzas–suspended Washington for his sexual insult, which subsequently led Washington to write the song and post it to SoundCloud. The song refers obscenely to Matanzas High School and links the subsequent threats to the dean’s disciplinary action, one lyric reading, “crackers kick me out of school cause I wasn’t in dress code.” The rest of the song is a succession of vile lyrics, including: “You should be afraid of me cause I’ll come and take your life / Smoke ya with this Uzi like…” (the verse ends in an expletive vaporizing over a simile about a crack pipe). The singer calls himself “the grim reaper,” declares himself unafraid to use a gun and goes on from there with plenty of repetition, for six minutes. The song was still on SoundCloud as of today.
An official had been given a copy of the song by a teacher, who’d been alerted by a student. When a dean passed it to the school resource deputy, the deputy determined that it was actionable, since it included direct threats naming an individual. The official identified the voice as allegedly that of Washington. The official has known Washington since he was in third grade, and had been his case manager. Once the dean–the alleged victim–was informed, he opted to pursue charges against Washington.
According to his arrest report, Washington knew law enforcement was coming for him. He conceded that he’d written and posted the song he calls “Racial Profiling,” saying he created it with his cell phone and posted it to Instagram and SoundCloud. He says he makes music about his emotions and life experiences. He sought advice from others about posting it. No one told him not to, he told deputies, “but he admitted that he knew the consequences of his actions could be that he was arrested and charged with a criminal offense,” his arrest report states. He “understood that there is heightened unease because of the numerous school shootings and understood why others would find the song disturbing.” He characterized the lyrics as “correct” but “all fantasy,” and that he would not kill the alleged victim. He posted the song, he said, because he “wanted other students to know what he has been going through and he knew the song would get to” the 31-year-old administrator.
Washington told deputies of an alleged altercation he’d had with the alleged victim three years ago, when Washington was a freshman. Ever since, he’s felt targeted.
Being 18, Washington faces a second-degree felony charge of sending written threats to kill. He was booked at the county jail and released on his own recognizance, with electronic monitoring. He’s been ordered to have no contact with the alleged victim or his family under a pre-trial supervision order. The prosecutor on the case is Jason Lewis, the same assistant state attorney who prosecuted the case of the 16-year-old girl at FPC.
“To anyone that still thinks saying ‘I was just kidding around or it’s a fantasy’ is going to get them out of being arrested when they threaten someone’s life – let this be a wake-up call,” Sheriff Rick Staly said in a release. “We have a zero tolerance policy and we do not take threats like these lightly, especially when it comes to our schools. If you make threatening statements online, in writing and or even if veiled in songs, you will be arrested.”
Compared to 2018, when similar charges were imposed on numerous students, the last two school years have been relatively calm in Flagler County, but not entirely immune from similar incidents.
He sought advice from others before posting the song? Yeah, right, it would be SUCH a good idea to release this guy to the loving care and careful guidance of his family and friends. I wonder if he realizes that, at 18 years old, he faces a different level of consequences than he would have in the past for his transgressions.
Weldon B. Ryan says
You gotta be kidding! This is art! Meanwhile in D.C. you can attempt to overthrow the U.S. Gov and still be a Senator or Congressman, Cop or FireFighter or even President without punishment. We do NOT disciplined the political jerks hanging on the real underlying racist tinge of the mask issue for not wearing a mask to protect others and themselves but we have time to bother a young man for his pants and lock him up for art. Two Justices in tthis country! He posted on an art platform. Stop the BS. Embrace and cultivate. He did not post on social media which says alot about this Resource officer. He’s locked up for a “Gangsta Rap song. What about his other ganster rap songs on SoundCloud? He has multiple songs expressing distain with numerous acts of violence expressed. Did you lock him up for those. In comparison to the 2018 incident, that wasn’t an artistic expression but was an actual threat with racism as a main component. Hope he can handle his new found fame after he sues this county.
Well said. He would have gotten off easier if he’d attacked the capital with guns, knives, tasers and zip ties. Oh and he’d have to be white too.
This has nothing to do with Washington DC…This has to do with a young man whose threatening behavior–which you may call art but which, I assure you, is no acceptable “art form” to those he targets, harasses and bullies–even if he does it in rhyme or to music. If another kid did the same to him–especially if it was a White person who did anything comparable to him–would you be as predisposed to calling that art”?
Weldon B. Ryan says
You are so clouded with white privilege. This rap we’re talking about and this kid was made a criminal for is and art expression along with other his other rap songs that boasts and that is all. No letters of intended threats were transmitted to anyone! The double standard is sooo apparent! Real criminals who did traitorous act and are runnung their own trials. A seditous crowd of white people tried to overthrow our country and no one has any fire to make them pay and here we are with a rap song by a young black man who chose to sing about racist acts done to him and he’s made a criminal. Wow…SMMFH!!!
Hitler promoted songs about committing violence against specific people that they blamed for their problems in the days of Nazi Germany. I guess the Germans at the time considered it not only an art form, but they were loud and proud to “express themselves” in a way that they considered to be a celebration of THEIR culture and nationalism. Time has shown us that those feelings of pride were not warranted and those expressions of same ultimately became a source of shame. Not all Rap music is geared towards viciously attacking others. But Rap music that advocates the use of violence to settle disputes and grudges plays a part in promoting it and inciting more of the same . Rap lyrics that celebrate violence against White people, Jews, Gay people, police officers en masse is simply another form of verbalized prejudice. Prejudice is prejudice, whether you learn it at someone’s knee or even if it comes out of your own experience. That doesn’t legitimize prejudice and it certainly doesn’t justify or excuse the negative consequences that can result from it. People who enable this as “art” are responsible for the results of that as well. It amazes me that the same people who advocate for tearing down statues of historical figures on the grounds that they are racially offensive are the same ones who defend this kind of “music.” That’s hypocrisy and no one is immune to it.
Nobody to blame but himself for the outcome whether convicted or not. No one but himself subjected to the charges. We didn’t make him a criminal lol SMH
Hard Core Trump Supporter says
It is just a kid being stupid. There is no reason to believe he would act on this. Why ruin this kid’s life over this? This is disgusting.
Until He or the next does act it out and then what??. Considering circumstances hiding behind the expression of Art in such a close instance of Disciplinary action by School Administration doesnt flush with me. His lack of respect and responsibility for his actions are evident. Indefensible cant be spun or sugar coated. His case if their is one will go in the circular file.
Hard Core Trump Supporter says
Steve it seems pretty defensible to me. A rebellious teen wrote a song about committing violence. “His lack of respect… for his actions are evident.” What does that even mean? To quote Twain, “It’s better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than open it and remove all doubt”.
Last I checked telling the Dean to suck it is disrespectful and INDEFENSIBLE that’s what it means SMH
Mary Fusco says
18 is not a kid. It is a young adult who should be preparing for their future. I would assume he is a senior in high school and should be contemplating his future. I raised 4 children and when they were 18, they were going to school, working and preparing for college and the future. Problem is that this behavior is condoned so it just goes on and on. This situation has absolutely nothing to do with politics, being black or white or anything else. It has to do with growing up and accepting responsibility for actions. At 3, my children knew there were consequences for their actions, both good and bad. You can’t blame some one else forever.
So not even art is safe anymore? With the correct lawyer this young man will indeed beat all charges. You can not arrest someone for thier artistic expression. This young student took the high road and expressed his frustration threw music and now is being punished for it. How backwards is that?
Doesn’t their have to be a reasonable likelihood the threat will be carried out? Does this kid own an Uzi? I doubt it. Is their evidence he intended to carry out the threat? For instance if I threatened to drop a nuclear bomb from a B-52 on Mar a Lago, but I have no means to obtain the necessary uranium, or the ability to build a bomb, and I don’t have access to a B52, is that a real threat?
In any case, I hope this young man gets some help and this doesn’t ruin his life.
Dont like the phrase but “It is what it is” Threatening the life of another as well as Family is wrong at any level and no excuse can be made for it. Seems the accused should put more of his effort toward dealing with life and its challenges , anger management rather than going off and putting threats in writing or on tape whatever. You have Issues to be worked out.
I like how when some commit racist acts, they call it art, when other’s do it, the call it being a Republican or simply being a white person……
Weldon B. Ryan says
I would argue that racist acts were done to him. The Southern Poverty Law Group sued Flagler for their treatment and practice of suspensions and expelsion of people of color. Clearly this is an art form and racism cannot be exercised by the powerless.
And I would argue against it, so aren’t we both content.
Funny I never seen any disqualifying factors in any dictionary regarding racism and who can commit it, or who can’t. So if someone is half white and half black, canthey be racist or commit racist acts, or only half way?
Land of no turn signals says says
Funny how some people can throw racial slurs around and it’s no big deal,no marches,no outrage.
German SS soldiers were said to sing songs about killing Jewish people, based on many peoples comments here, that qualifies as art. I say it qualifies as garbage, just like this individuals song. Art is not an excuse, and it is not a tool for bartering. And like the freedom of speech, it has consequences too, right?
Weldon B. Ryan says
Here we go again about the SS. Well what about our national anthem! One difference is this kid is under the power of a racism society which paints him a threat any time he is seen and everywhere he goes! This country is rasist on conception and it persists in its Racism through systematic actions from slavery to voter suppression. The School to Prison pipeline is active and this kid is a victim. It’s evident! It’s not an argument to discuss.
If he threatens others, he runs the risk of being removed from the society he threatens. And that is all on him. Actions have consequences. There are other far more intelligent and constructive ways of settling disputes. At 18 years old, it is time he learned that lesson. The people who are enabling and excusing this negative behavior for the grandiose sake of promoting their own pseudo-political ends aren’t doing this young man any favors. Realistic and responsible guidance from members of his own community might.
His punishment should be to take music class, and a poetry class, and redo the song with a more positive messege possibly sparking good change instead of labeling him a felon for life.
Weldon B. Ryan says
What a society! You can’t force art the way you’d like it to be!
We’ll remind you that you said that the next time some White Supremacist or Neo-Nazi makes a video singing about THEIR desire to threaten certain other groups of people. If such “art” is in the eye of the beholder, be prepared for it to work both ways.
TO THE PEOPLE WHO SEEM TO BE DEFENDING THIS GUY… what if the threatening song was directly aimed at your son or daughter, your husband or wife? Would you still say its harmless art, and ignore it. Maybe he does have an Uzi. Hell, when i was 16, i had 2 handguns and an AK47. Sad but true. So when you read the article here that the school official was gunned down in a gas station parking lot, after knowing he made that song…
If he threatened my family in a song my family would drop the hardest diss track ever heard in the county. But i def wouldnt have him arrested.
So funny now ALL the Trumpers have found God or Racial Equality or Freedom of Speeech or law and order . What a bunch of hypocritical losers. WHATEVER
Stelios Kontos says
Free speech, he’ll beat the case easily. Bunch of sensitive pussies, if I was the dean i would’ve came back with the illest diss track
Here’s the problem. It really has nothing to do with the color of his skin. He knowingly made an ignorant choice and was aware of the consequences and still chose to post for someone to gain control of it. At 18 your no longer a kid your considered an adult so you need to start acting like an adult. The best outcome is for this county/country to unite and change this young man’s life 1 person at a time. At the end.of the day he made an irrational ignorant choice and again stated he was aware of the consequences therefore he must be made held accountable for his mistakes and hope it changes his life for the better.