‘Arizona’ Video Angers State Officials : Pop music: The Public Enemy clip features mock assassinations of political figures. The rappers say the song protests the rescinding of the King holiday.


A spokesman for Arizona Gov. Fife Symington has described as “unfortunate” a new promotional video by acclaimed rap group Public Enemy that features the mock assassination of various fictitious state officials.

The video, “By the Time I Get to Arizona,” is designed to protest the state’s rescinding in 1987 of a state holiday commemorating Martin Luther King Jr., Public Enemy’s Chuck D. said Tuesday during a press conference in New York.

The clip, which was scheduled to premiere Wednesday night on the MTV cable channel, includes footage of a senator being poisoned and a governor being blown up by an assassin’s bomb. The scenes are interspersed with re-enactments of King’s assassination.

“This rap group is very misinformed,” Douglas Cole, who works in Symington’s press office in Phoenix, said on Wednesday. “Gov. Symington is one of the biggest advocates for the Martin Luther King holiday. The unfortunate thing about the Public Enemy video is that it doesn’t accurately portray political life in Arizona as it is today.”

Chuck D. was unavailable Wednesday, but Harry Allen, a media consultant who describes himself as the band’s “director of enemy relations,” defended the violent imagery employed in the video.


“What Public Enemy is addressing in this video is that the people in Arizona with the most power to create justice have been the most blatant about their insistence on refining the practice of white supremacy,” he said by phone from New York.

“People always say that Martin Luther King stood for nonviolence, but Public Enemy wonders if he would have stood for nonviolence if he could have stood up after that bullet violently ripped through his neck. We like to think that this video finishes the work that Martin Luther King Jr. started.”

The King holiday was rescinded in 1987 by former Arizona Gov. Evan Mecham, sparking a national controversy. Mecham was impeached by the Arizona House of Representatives the following year, following accusations involving questionable campaign loans.

MTV spokeswoman Linda Alexander said that the cable music channel will preface the video each time it runs with an introduction explaining the political situation. MTV will air the video four times today and again on Jan. 20 during its “Yo! MTV Raps” Martin Luther King Day special.