Inside The Tupac Center Vandalism

Was it racist? Anti-hip-hop? Was there really a noose? The Center’s outreach director details the controversial crime and the future of the Foundation in this exclusive interview.

Carlos Coleman is the Outreach Director of the Tupac Amaru Shakur Center for the Arts, in Stone Mountain, Georgia, outside of Atlanta. The TASCA is the performing arts institute that Tupac’s mother Afeni Shakur built to continue her son’s legacy of passionate artistry and activism. On October 20, 2007, the Center was vandalized, with the bronze statue of Tupac Shakur in the Center’s Peace Garden desecrated with a noosed rope around the statue’s neck. While rumors are circulating about the true details of the crime, only those who were there know the truth. In a XXLmag.com exclusive, Coleman speaks about the hate crimes and how the Center will be turning things around for their future.

Tell us what you saw that morning when you came to work.
We were hosting an event that day. When I went to open the Center, that’s when I discovered there were some postings on the sign outside the fence. I saw it personally. There were a lot of different postings all over the place – sheets of paper that said “2Pac: king of fools”. One posting had 2Pac’s body on it with the words “king of bling”. We took them down. It was all targeted at hip-hop artists. They had pictures of Ludacris—the Chicken and Beer album cover—replaced with Martin Luther King’s face. They did the same with 50 Cent—Martin Luther King’s face but 50’s body. They did it with Master P’s image too.

What happened to the Peace Garden at the Center?
We went out to the Peace Garden and we saw these big, bold postings all over the [2Pac] statue. The closer we got to the statue, we saw the underwear on the head of the statue—Tommy Hilfiiger underwear—and the mouth was covered with postings. There was a red rope around the neck of the statue and it was twisted so tight that if it was a human being he would’ve be strangled. A cross attached to the red rope had a message on it that said “caput, king of fools”. The writing was in red letters as if it was blood.

Some later reports said that it wasn’t actually a noose. What’s up with that?
It looked like a noose to me. I want people to know that it was a rope and it was twisted around the neck as if you were going to be strangled. They tried to say it wasn’t a noose but what else what is it? It was a rope and it was around his neck? Again, if it was a human being he would have been strangled to death.

Why would they try to deny it being a noose?
I think they did it to keep the publicity down. Or maybe to catch the guy. Or maybe they probably just didn’t give a fuck.

Was there other damage there?
Around the base of the statue we have these 2Pac poems on slates and they put [vandalized] postings on each one of the poems. Whoever it was, they really put some time in and thought this through. They knew how to finish the job and they knew what time we’d be away from the Center.

Reports said they caught someone, but the detectives haven’t actually lined up a suspect yet.
After the police report was filed, that following Monday, an incident of vandalism happened again around two a.m.—actually we don’t know what time it was but we captured a person on the premises [at] two in the morning. He was caught trespassing. Whoever the people were, they actually hit the base of the statue to try to bring the statue completely down. Both sides of the statue were completely destroyed. But ‘Pac was still standing. It takes a lot to take that statue down.

So, the guy you caught—do you believe he was the one, or just in the wrong place at the wrong time?
I believe he was there at the wrong place at the wrong time. Our security heard noise at that time coming out of the Peace Garden. [The security guard] heard a branch snap and pointed his flashlight in the direction where he heard a noise. He told the guy to come out. The guy who was hiding said he loved ’Pac and he came to talk to ’Pac. He was drunk. This was a black guy, a 37-year-old man.

Do you believe the intruder? Or do you think he had something to do with it?
Who knows? I feel like he had no business being on that property that early in the morning. He was charged with trespassing. We had no proof he was involved in the vandalism so they could not charge him with that. I didn’t talk to him personally.

What was the mood of the staff when they saw what happened?
The mood of the staff was very miserable. We were in disbelief. We couldn’t believe someone would come through and vandalize the statue like that. We were sad for a minute. We put so much work into the Center. Afeni Shakur put so much work into it, it was like, “Huh?” So, it took us back for a minute—a minute of disbelief.

Was the vandalism racist?
It wasn’t racist, it was more just hate. Hatred of black men comin’ up. [The vandals] were talking about bombing Atlanta because of Ludacris. They said Master P is the reason why we have bad karma in New Orleans with Hurricane Katrina. Because of Def Jam Records is why we had 9/11. It was just a sick person.

So how cooperative have the cops been?
So far, the police have been very cooperative. They have been taking it more serious than what I thought. At first it took a minute to get the police to come out, but once they realized how serious it was, they came out full strength with the Department of Homeland Security. They are working very diligently on it.

Ironically, it was in Atlanta where ’Pac beat the charge after allegedly shooting off-duty cops. You’d think they wouldn’t want to help now.
That’s something we were concerned about but thank God we’ve been getting a really great response from the police.

So tell us about this event you’re planning to address all the madness.
On November 10, we’re having our second film screening this year. The first one we had brought a really great response. We had Alpha Tyler [the Atlanta-based casting director for Tyler Perry’s House of Payne TV show] come out to the first screening. She was able to see Pac’s Kids, our kids program where we train them in singing, dancing and acting. One of our Pac’s Kids students, Kyre Batiste-Loftin, is now one of the new characters on House of Payne. We had Roderick Thomas, who played Paul in Stomp the Yard, and he was also in The Gospel. At our second film screening event we’re gonna have them come out again. Jay Braxton, an entertainment attorney in Atlanta, is coming out.

They will talk to the youth about film careers and breaking ground. We’re gonna show trailers of all Pac’s movies, but the first thing we’re doing that day is a re-dedication of the Peace Garden. It will be a public re-opening and a salute to all the loved ones who passed. A live community mural will be produced, initiated by Kyle Holbrook, who’s coming down from Pittsburgh as part of the dedication. This is his donation to the project.

We’re gonna have libations. We’re showing two movies: Love and Basketball and Remember the Titans and also we’re having a panel on sports and education where people will come out and talk about sports-driven foundations and how they’re helping the community. Afeni Shakur will be there. We’re just letting everybody know that we’re still fighting and the vandalism is not stopping us.

Why is the Peace Garden so important to the Tupac Amaru Shakur Foundation For The Arts?
The Peace Garden is a six-acre piece of property dedicated to peace. It’s for artists to come out and paint, write, do yoga, anything. The pavilions and the Peace Garden itself is just a place for tranquility. This is something that 2Pac would have wanted. Afeni Shakur is just continuing the legacy. He wanted a school of performing arts in every city, like the one he went to in Baltimore.

How did Afeni Shakur take it when they saw what they did to her son’s statue?
I think the worse was already done 11 years ago. There ain’t nothing else that can happen that’s more devastating than that. [Afeni Shakur] just took it like, “Okay, let’s get ourselves together and move forward.” She’s a strong cookie. That’s just who she is. That’s her nature. She’s in good spirits and is looking forward to moving forward.

How did Pac’s Kids take it?
The kids are troopers. They re the ones that have been keeping the adults strong. I was talking to one of the kids the other day and he was talking about problems with his school with the gangs, so that vandalism stuff was nothing to him. We have one student who came to us last year who was having health complications. She thought she was diabetic. The doctor said she was fine. She insisted they tested her and then found out she had Diabetes. Those are the kinds of kids we have. They speak up and stand up for themselves. So this just makes them fight a lil bit more and puts a lil more fire behind their fight.

There’s not a sad moment with us right now. It’s a moment of triumph. It’s a moment of moving forward. I think each one of us have been through so much that a little vandalism ain’t nothing. You take some one’s life, that’s a different story.

For more information about the TASF Film Festival visit www.tasf.org or www.2paclegacy.com

  • http://xxlmag.com Bol

    I heard the noose was actually a necklace with a cross on it.

  • C

    I know Pac is smiling down. Who knew a so called gangsta rapper would be able to affect kids lives who were probably not born or still in diapers when he passed, years after his death. This interview makes me want to pick up the pen and make it happen. On another note, Black Folk racism still exist the recent acts of ignorance is the evidence. WWPD ( What Would Pac Do)?

  • GUNIT SOLDIER

    1st?!

    Holy shit I never really realized what a pathetic excuse for tupac that statue was. They couldn’t even make it look like him? Oh well, and as for the noose thing, I think the people who report things like this is why there is so much crap in the media. Get your story straight before you open your mouth. pz

  • b-ease

    it looks like a statue of WEB Dubois…

  • http://xxlmag nico

    this man is hiphop !!!

  • FORTY

    Whoever designed this statue should be fired. That doesn’t even look like Pac. That looks like somebody’s grandpa.

    R.I.P. Pac!!!

  • Matt Herbz

    So, truth be told, it wasn’t a noose, it was a necklace with a cross on it.
    Just another attempt at disgracing noble young white niggaz like myself.

    Fuck you Tupac.

    –Matt Herbz–
    The ORIGINAL White Nigga

    • nixs

      What is up with “Fuck you Tupac”? He didn’t even have nothing to do with this! He’s been dead since 1996!! I’m not racist, but if you are white you cannot understand what being a nigga/nigger is in a positive or negative sense. I could school you on that, but I’d rather pray for your dumb ass. Stop watching 8-mile and be yourself.

    • the one

      what the fuck is wrong with you calling yourself a white nigger you have no idea what the hell you are saying do you? no such thing as white nigger the n-word is terrible and whether you are black or not you shouldnt say it think about your ancestors pain every time you say it

      and no god bless tupac

      and fuck you “matt herbz” you WIGGER
      shut your goddamn mouth and get that long waited sex change your white ass has been waiting for. ASSHOLE

      R.I.P pac

    • Bool

      Matt Herbz nobody talks bout pac like that u can go fuck urself we dont need u comments here motherfucker….u called urself a “white Nigga” funny………fuck u
      R.I.P Pac

    • WWPD

      MATT HERBZ YOU ARE NOT A NIGGA. DO YOU REALIZE THE MEANING BEHIND THE DEGRADING TERM NIGGA AND/OR NIGGER, YOU ARE NOT BLACK SO THERE FOR YOU WILL NEVER FULLY COMPREHEND HOW DEGRADING THE WORD IS. YES, BLACKS DO SAY NIGGA BUT I FEEL IT’S OUR RIGHT TO, AFTER THE YEARS OF INJUSTICE AND RACISM (WITH MORE TO COME). I FEEL THAT WE OWN THE WORD NIGGA AND IF YOU ARE NOT BLACK YOU SHOULD NEVER SAY IT BECAUSE YOU GREAT GRANDFATHER’S FATHER WAS A SLAVE OWNER. YES, YOU CAN ENJOY RAP MUSIC TO THE FULLEST DEGREE BUT JUST DONT CROSS THE THIN LINE OF RESPECT. I AM A 15 YEAR OLD FEMALE AND I AM NOT AS IGNORANT AS YOUR ASS.

      AND AS FAR AS YOU HATING ON TUPAC, YOU BETTER SHUT THE FUCK UP ABOUT THAT SHIT AND LET THAT MAN REST IN PEACE. YOU ARE JUST ANGRY BECAUSE WHEN YOU DIE YOU WILL NEVER HAVE A STATUE HANGIN AROUND. AND IF YOU WERE A REAL HIP HOP FAN YOU WOULD UNDERSTAND THE LEGACY TUPAC HAS CREATED. YOU MAY NOT LIKE HIM BUT YOU WILL RESPECT HIM. AND IF A WHITE NIGGA DID EXIST YOU’D BE A LAME ASS EXCUSE FOR ONE BECAUSE TRUE NIGGAS GIVE CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE. I HOPE YOU CHOKE ON YOUR UNCLE DICK TONIGHT YOU LITTLE BITCH!!!!!

      LONG LIVE PAC
      LONG LIVE PAC
      LONG LIVE MUTHAFUCKN PAC!

      WWPD (WAT WOULD PAC DO?)

  • RICHIE RICH

    I SAY ALL BLACKS SHOULD PISS ON ABRAHAM LINCOLN’S STATUE. THE BITCH AINT REALLY WANT TO FREE US

  • Truth

    The sad thing is that far too many rappers are the king of fools…you dont have to be white to see this…I can see it for godsakes…considering rappers are some of the highest powered black people in this society, they don’t say shit…they entertain the masses by exploiting our problems…I got much love for the rap community, but for fuck sakes how can we be happy with this trash, when was the last time you heard a rap song that made you think about something new…never…funny, me too

  • Rev. Charles Mock

    Afeni’s attitude, as well as yours, regarding the vandalsim speaks volumes to the strength and character of Tupac and those of the center. All I can say is keep the faith! If you weren’t doing something important folk would leave you alone. It is obvious that you and the center are making it happen. My prayers are with you!

  • http://www.Bangg301.com Bootlegg Bill

    I hate to be ignorant but am I the only one who thinks that statue doesn’t look like Pac. No disrespect but if they said Cuervo the janitor’s statue had been vandalized i’d be looking at that joint up top for real. Pac look Mexican in the picture!

  • http://www.Bangg301.com Bootlegg Bill

    Did’t know Pac was mexican? They got him looking like Cuervo the janitor. The dude cleaning up the mess looks like the statue.

  • k

    Pac look Mexican in that statue. 2Cuervo not 2Pac.

  • Memphis Tn

    “They Rather See Us Locked In Chains….Please Explain Why They Cant Stand Us?….Is There A Way For Me To Change? Or Am I Just A Victim of Thangs I Did To Maintain?”

    2Pac

  • http://MYSPACE.COM/KINSNSPACE KINSNSPACE

    PEACE,FROM THE BAY!
    TRUE OR NOT ,THIS IS SOME B.S!

    COME VIBE MYSPACE.COM/KINSNSPACE
    KIN CAMELL@IMEEM.COM

  • Dame da Don

    Damn shame they do shit like that. And who the fuck is Matt Herbz. I am from the west coast and you would not get away with saying shit like that in public bitch. Fuck you and the Dixie Chicks bitch. West Side, MOB

    R.I.P 2Pac and the rest of the fallen legends.

  • juarez

    I Think yall should focus on the real issue, there are people out here that are scared as hell, We need to keep that ”full court press” on them so they can turn the ball over. All yall stupid fucks who’s veins need a dose, listen to ” my block” from THE SHOW soundtrack.

  • Rocafella Soldier

    R.I.P Pac, true hip hop legend.

  • Lobo

    Who the fuck is dat bitch matt herbs.He just a dumb ass white racist piece of shit dat needs to be hanged.Calling himself white nigger!FREAK.Go fuck your mama, biaaaaaaaaaatch! R.I.P. Tupac Shakur

  • pimp jonez

    Matt Herbz?…smack yourself..It’s dumb ass small town krackaz like you that watch the chappelles show a couple of times and listen to a couple of rap songs who think they have a ghetto pass…my advise to you? Stop fuckin your sister,take care of your daughter/niece and get out the stone ages…its 2007 dick

  • BeezyB

    Matt Herbz is a Complete Jackass, Im From Columbus Ga, and Down hear we love pac, sand dats fucked up dat people would stoop so low to fuck up something that pac and afeni worked so hard to build. So it aint fuck pac, Its Fuck U You white piece of Fucking Trailer Park Trash. RIP PAC Greatest rapper of All Time Period.

  • http://2pac Neesha

    ~rest in paradise tupac you are the best~

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