Serving as the leader of a police department in any major U.S. city comes with a myriad of problems to navigate. For Dallas Police Chief Reneé Hall, this includes police shootings, and an exponential increase in homicides, along with Deep Ellum’s uptick in crime and crowd control issues. To assist with this and the overall betterment of Dallas from a grass roots level, Chief Hall created the Community Advisory Board, which is comprised of 25 neighborhood leaders from all 14 districts. Each board member serves a six month term, after which they are asked to recommend someone else for the position.
Rapper and activist Quincy “Que-P” Bradley is among those who were chosen to serve on the board. The veteran North Dallas musician has consistently released street-oriented hip hop for nearly a decade, including his latest project, No Trophies. In addition to gaining notoriety for his own music, he’s widely respected as an ambassador for local hip hop culture in general.
Bradley accepted the position on the advisory board in June. Even with Chief Hall on medical leave while recovering from a major surgery in July, the Community Advisory Board has continued its monthly meetings in her absence.
Bradley admits he was hesitant to accept the role at first. “I got referred by Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Adam McGough. I’m not gonna lie, I didn’t jump on it right away. I needed to know exactly what we would be doing, and whether or not there were any restrictions or stipulations involved. I told them I am not working for the police department–I work for the people. That’s the first thing we had to establish,” Bradley says through laughter. “Once we got that clear, it put me at ease.”
Chief Hall’s brief tenure has been filled with a considerable amount of controversy. Bradley says some of the comments from detractors including politicians, other DPD officers, and media members have been unfair. He believes much of the criticism is due to her attempts to make internal changes. This includes the demotion of several high ranking DPD officers in December of 2017, and her advocacy for strengthening the Citizens Police Review Board.
“A lot of people have been sitting in certain positions for a long time. It gets real cliquish and agenda based. Chief Hall and her advisors are trying to shake that up and be more transparent with the community,” Bradley says.
The rapper created a two-year plan to put activism at the forefront of his life.
“I wanted to let people see me do this, boots to the ground for two years. Any and everything I could find to get involved in I did. For two years straight, I made this my focus and didn’t put out any music,” he says.
The concept of “street cred” in hip hop simply means, if you’re going to routinely speak about hardships you’ve been through or your involvement in criminal activity, you need to be speaking from experience. Rappers aren’t always truthful, yet the expectation remains. Bradley repurposed this aspect of hip hop culture for his personal agenda. He wanted people to see his efforts in real life before he began incorporating activism into his music. Bradley participated in various youth programs that promote physical fitness and education, he’s been involved in anti-police brutality efforts, and logged numerous volunteer community service hours for a variety of causes.
However, Bradley’s plan was abruptly placed on hold in March when he was wounded at a gas station in Dallas.
“I could have died about four months ago,” he says. “I got shot in my foot, but I dodged eight bullets.”
By then, Bradley’s work in the community had already put him on the radar of City Hall. Deputy Mayor Pro Tem and District 10 Councilman Adam McGough sought out Bradley’s help for his campaign and became a political mentor for Bradley. The two went on to collaborate on several projects, including neighborhood debris cleanup following Dallas’ massive summer storms.
Effective activism must be strategic and include diplomacy. This is a lesson Bradley has learned while maintaining the same passion for the empowerment of marginalized groups, as well as the anger he’s always felt when witnessing injustice.
“We’ve been throwing rocks at this building for a long time,” he says, referring to what he describes as emotion-based activism. “Those rocks don’t affect the people on the inside. What sold me on this position is having the ability to communicate directly with the people in power. The mistake we’ve made, including myself, is that we often try to use fear as a negotiation tactic. Like we’re going to scare people into making the changes we want. I’ve learned there are other ways to get things done, and I’ve learned how to effectively communicate. Sometimes, you have to use finesse over fear,” says Bradley.
Bradley says his experiences with law enforcement have been negative throughout his life. Despite that history, he’s put forth the effort to build rapport with officers he’s been able to network with, and says it has helped establish some level of mutual respect.
“Me being in these rooms and having officers aware that I’m from neighborhoods they patrol that they may not feel connected to, and them being able to see me as an actual person has just as much of an impact as any protest,” he says.
The Community Advisory Board is an ideal platform for Bradley to put what he’s learned into action. “It’s not just about the violence in the city, it’s not just about the bad things going on. It’s about being able to present programs to people in power that can help improve everyday life in our neighborhoods, creating programs for kids, educating people about what the police do and how they operate, including response times for different calls. A lot of people don’t even know about 311, the number you call when things need to be fixed in your neighborhood.”
Bradley hopes to be a resource people can count on when there’s a disconnect between public perception and reality. “I want to help get important information to my people. Whether good or bad, whether we’re wrong or the other side is wrong. I have no dog in this fight when it comes to the truth,” he says.
Now that his two year plan has come to fruition, Bradley has allotted more time for his music, as well. You can see him performing songs from his latest album, No Trophies, at It Ain’t Fair mini festival on August 24 at The Green Elephant.