T.I. speaks out on police brutality

Story highlights

  • T.I. talks with CNN about his new film, "Us or Else"
  • "Police brutality is really just a tentacle to a larger problem," he said

Austin, Texas (CNN)CNN caught up with Tip "T.I." Harris at the SXSW festival last month, where the Grammy-winning rapper and actor premiered his latest passion project, "Us or Else" — a short film that examines the relationship between police and the black community.

"Police brutality is really just a tentacle to a larger problem — the racial divide and the systemic racism that goes on from the highest of highs to the lowest of the low of society in America," T.I. told CNN.
The film is set to premiere on BET Monday night, along with a conversation with T.I. on police brutality and gun violence facilitated by CNN political commentator Angela Rye.
    President Donald Trump slammed the Black Lives Matter movement as a candidate, lamented a "war on police" and accused the group of helping to instigate police shootings through their protests and rallies against police brutality.
    "There is a new (president) but I am still residing under the tenure of Barack Obama," T.I. joked at SXSW during a conversation with Sway Calloway. But, he added, Trump is now in the White House and "we dealin' with it."
    T.I., who participated in Black Lives Matter protests, has been one of Trump's most outspoken critics in hip-hop, most recently slamming the President in a series of colorful insults on Instagram following Trump's feud with rapper Snoop Dogg.
    The film is the third phase of the Atlanta rapper's "Us Or Else" movement, which kicked off with the release of his 2016 "Us Or Else" EP, and his 10th studio release, "Us Or Else: Letter to the System," which came out in December.
    The rapper also wrote a series of open letters to Obama and Trump in January, and a letter advocating for civil engagement addressed to Americans.
    T.I., who had his own experience with the law when he was charged with illegal weapon possession in 2008, has been outspoken on issues like police brutality in his music for years.
    But it was not until 2014 when unarmed Missouri teenager Michael Brown was shot dead by police, sparking an uprising in Ferguson and fueling the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, that discussions over police brutality truly became major national issues.

    T.I. talks with Sway Calloway about what inspired #UsOrElse @ #sxsw #sxswmusic #sxsw2017 #TIP #TI

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    "I think (the conversation) has mobilized a lot of people and awakened a lot of people, united a lot of people for a common goal," T.I. said, calling on people to participate in local politics.
    Over the past two years, Obama-appointed Attorney General Loretta Lynch launched several Justice Department investigations into police departments around the nation, including Ferguson, Baltimore and Chicago, revealing patterns of racial discrimination in policing and cases of excessive force.