Midwest Innocence Project $1 Mil To Fight Injustice Thanks To Jay-Z’s Team Roc

The $1 million facilitated by Team Roc, the philanthropic arm of Jay-Z’s Roc Nation will contribute to fighting injustice in five states.

Jay-Z’s social justice outfit, Team Roc has garnered donations amounting to $1 million for the Midwest Innocence Project to fund investigations into wrongful convictions in Wyandotte County.  

The group works in five states, including Kansas, where Jay-Z has filed a lawsuit against the police department. According to executive director Tricia Rojo Bushnell, the $1 million Team Roc sourced from donors amounts to their entire annual budget.  

“It’s a huge investment,” Rojo Bushnell said: “The ability to look at these cases … is really going to continue to shine a light on what we need to do to actually provide a just criminal legal system in Wyandotte County.” 

The Midwest Innocence Project has received about 40 applications from people convicted in Wyandotte County seeking review of their cases.  

One of these injustices is the case of Lamonte McIntyre, wrongfully convicted for murder in Kansas City, Kansas. He spent 23 years in prison after being convicted of two murders he did not commit. A more recent case is that of Olin “Pete” Coones Jr. He spent 12 years in prison for a murder in Wyandotte County before being exonerated. He died 108 days from cancer after being granted his freedom. His cancer went undiagnosed during his time behind bars.  

Last month, Team Roc filed a legal action against the Kansas City Police Department for allegedly covering up instances of police misconduct. Among the allegations is abuse of authority, fabricating witness statements, planting evidence, and soliciting sexual favors from victims and witnesses. They cite the example of former detective Roger Golubski, accused of using his authority to rape and exploit vulnerable Black women.   

Last week, Jay-Z’s philanthropic organization took out a full-page advertisement in the Washington Post asking the Department of Justice to intervene. 

“The police and eyewitness reports of criminal behavior perpetrated by members of the Kansas City, Kansas police department, over the past several decades, are staggering,” it said. “They detail graphic accounts of rape, murder, sex trafficking and corruption so rampant and so blatant, it would be shocking if even a single allegation were true.”