Suge Knight spoke out from his prison cell last
week, after he was jailed for allegedly violating his parole by associating
with reputed gang members. Knight claims that he is being harassed by police
in a bid to get him to speak about warring rival blood factions in California
and murders he says he knows nothing about.
"I ain't no gangster. I'm too damn old.
I'm a grown man trying to run a business. The guys who work for me ain't out
wearing rags and gang-banging in the streets. We got families. We got bills.
Why don't they just leave us alone?," Knight told the Los Angeles Times.
Knight's offices were raided at dawn in November,
as police were searching for suspects and information related to two gang related
shootings earlier in the year.
L.A. is experiencing a surge in gang related
violence, pushing the city's murder rate to a six year high, with over 600 people
being murdered. Los Angeles' new police chief, William Bratton, has declared
a virtual state of emergency over the spike in violence and likened gang members
to "domestic terrorists."
"There is nothing more insidious than these
gangs," said Bratton. "They are worse than the Mafia. Show me a year
in New York where the Mafia indiscriminately killed 300 people. You can't."
The city is introducing new efforts to curtail
the gang activity in the Los Angeles area, where authorities say there are more
than 100,000 gang members and at least 200 active gangs.
Bratton said he will head to Washington to ask
for help from the federal government. The use of the RICO statute (Racketeer
Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) and the IRS to bring down the gang
members. They will also actively track down parole and probation violators.
Under Knight's parole terms he is prohibited
from associating with gang members. He was arrested because he hired people
who had not been approved by authorities and because he has been photographed
with gang members.
"I told parole that if I had to stop dealing
with people from the 'hood, I might as well shut my business down. I can't just
turn my back on the people I came up with. Rap comes from the same place that
I did -- the ghetto."