Willie McCoy was about to break through. The 25-year-old grew up in California, first Sacramento and later Vallejo. He lost both of his parents to cancer before his teens, and while trying to come to grips with growing up without them, he discovered he had a natural gift for rhymes and beats. He dropped out of school to focus on music. He earned his GED and, under the stage name Willie Bo, formed the rap group Forever Black Gods, determined to make it big. FBG’s songs spoke of “brotherhood and unity” – what you want for yourself is what you want for your brother. Willie’s lyrics focus on growing up poor and black, and while they were often about guns and money, they were also about loss and family. He took the work seriously, reading up on the music business and how to network with collaborators and expand their fan bases. He was a rising star in the California music scene, viewed by his collaborators as authentic and invested in using his growing fame to help his friends.
Willie McCoy was murdered by police on February 9, 2019, for sleeping in his car. Wrapping up a particularly grueling concert tour, Willie fell asleep in his car at a Vallejo Taco Bell drive-thru. Six cops arrived to conduct a “welfare check” on the driver. The cops found Willie asleep with a gun in his lap, but noticed that it did not have a magazine loaded in it (meaning it had at most one bullet to fire). They kept their flashlights and guns trained on Willie as they discussed how to get into the car, and when Willie finally woke up, he startled suddenly at the flashlights in his eyes. All six cops unloaded their guns: 55 shots fired over 4 seconds, hitting Willie 25 times in his face, throat, chest and arms. No charges were ever filed against any of the cops.
Black lives matter.