Jamiel Shaw's killing lamented in Ice Cube video
Video features dozens of other crime victimsThe unlikely stars of Ice Cube's new video are the grieving relatives of Jamiel Shaw Jr., a 17-year-old high school football star with a promising future who was shot to death outside his home.
The song "Why Me?" speaks out against senseless violence and gun crime devastating communities. Cube says the Shaws are a powerful illustration of the pain that remains after a murder.
"It just was a tragic, tragic story of why," Cube says. "Young people are dying for no reason all over the world that don't know why. It's ugly, everywhere."
The rap video begins with the tightly framed, sorrow-filled faces of Jamiel's parents and aunt. His dad recounts a final conversation with his son.
"To drive this home, it was only right to use real family and not use a bunch of actors," Cube says.
Jamiel Shaw was on track for a college sports scholarship, and his mother was serving in the Army in Iraq at the time of the shooting last March.
He was a few yards from his house in a working-class neighborhood south of downtown Los Angeles when he was killed. Pedro Espinoza, an illegal immigrant and alleged gang member who had been released from jail a day earlier on weapons charges, has pleaded not guilty to murder.
Prosecutors say Espinoza drove to Shaw's neighborhood and shot him after asking him a question about his gang affiliation. Police have said Shaw was never in a gang.
Cube's video also features photographs of dozens of other crime victims blowing from a tree then across the sand in the desert north of Los Angeles. The video also depicts a young man in a football jersey being gunned down on a street. As he lays dying, he asks, "Why me homie, why me?"
Espinoza's early release from jail prompted the Shaws to call for a new law, dubbed "Jamiel's Law," that would push Los Angeles police to crack down on illegal immigrant gang members.
Cube says the video is not meant as an endorsement of the move.
"It ain't really a commentary on that," Cube says. "You've got a person being killed by a person he don't know for a reason he don't know ... Who cares if it was an immigrant or if it was a taxpaying citizen?"
For the Shaws, appearing in the video was a chance to further their petition drive to qualify the proposed law for the ballot.
"Every time I start watching it, I start crying," father Jamiel Shaw says. "At the same time, I feel good that we are getting the word out."