ATLANTA — The popular rapper Young Thug was arrested in Atlanta on Monday, and faces a slew of accusations from Fulton County's district attorney, including that he was allegedly a founder and active leader of the violent Young Slime Life street gang.
The 80-plus page indictment charges both Young Thug and another rapper, Gunna, with gang-related crimes, and includes more than 25 others who have allegedly participated in YSL gang activity.
The New York Times reported that the lawyer for Young Thug, whose legal name is Jeffery Williams, said that YSL was not a street gang and claimed that the indictment was "baseless to include him."
“Mr. Williams came from an incredible horrible upbringing, and he has conducted himself throughout his life in a way that is just to marvel at,” Attorney Brian Steel said.
On Tuesday, Fulton DA Fani Willis offered a few more details into the case in an afternoon press conference.
Between the indictment and Willis' statements, here's what we know so far about what Young Thug stands accused:
Young Thug charges and alleged Young Slime Life involvement
- The indictment singles out Young Thug as a leader of the gang: The rapper is charged with "participation in criminal street gang activity" as an "organizer, supervisor, or other position of management or leadership" of several violent crimes, among them murder.
- He is implicated as someone who could give gang orders: One section of the indictment says two other gang members accused of attempting to murder rapper YFN Lucci discussed "how to get permission from... Young Thug ... to kill Rayshawn Bennett (YFN Lucci) and what the payment would be to do so."
- There is a second allegation like this: It states he was part of a call with an individual who was in Fulton County Jail, and in the call the man "stated he needed something." Young Thug allegedly "pointed to (another gang member) to take care of it and flashed a YSL gang sign."
- His attorneys are trying to get him out of jail: They filed a motion on Tuesday that requests "an expeditious hearing" for a judge to considering giving the rapper bond.
- It alleges he is a YSL founder: The document states Young Thug, legal name Jeffery Williams, was among four founders of the gang and "made YSL a well-known name by referring to it in his songs and on social media."
- A key to the case is a 2015 murder: One of Young Thug's charges alleges he rented a car used in the January 2015 murder of Donovan Thomas, Jr., described as a "rival gang member." At the press conference Tuesday, DA Willis said that murder "created violence like Atlanta has never seen" and she framed it as a central event that led to the indictment this year.
- What Willis said about the Donovan Thomas case: "It was a goal of my predecessor and any person or prosecutor in this office to make sure that family received justice, because everyone is entitled to justice. It was a commitment I made from my first day in office. Very shortly after becoming district attorney I sat down with Donovan Thomas' mother and I made her a promise that her son was as valuable as any other person in our community, that I would put resources on this case and do everything to make sure her son had justice. Yesterday was a proud day for me."
- He is alleged to have posted on social media about the Thomas murder: It says he "did appear in a video released on social media 16 days after the murder," in which he appears to have spoken and referenced someone's court appearance: "So a ***** lie to they momma, lie to they kids, lie to they brothers and sisters then get right into the courtroom and tell the God's honest truth, don't get it, y'all ****** need to get ******* killed bro, from me and YSL."
- He is alleged to have referenced gang activity with other gang leaders: A portion of the indictment says he spoke to a leader of the Sex Money Murder gang in a conversation in which they discussed: "Sacrifices must be made, soldiers must fall in order for battle to be won."
- He is alleged to have referenced gang activity with another member: The document states he told another man, in reference to a stolen car, that "if he don't take it back" he would die.
- A traffic stop is referenced: He is alleged to have been stopped with another vehicle (not the one he was driving), and in the other vehicle there were "four individuals who were armed with numerous weapons with high capacity magazines to include an AK-47 a 30 round magazine."
- Young Thug faces some specific criminal charges in the indictment: Those are outlined below. They are all linked as an "overt act in furthering of the conspiracy" and an "act of racketeering" to advance gang interests.
List of specific criminal acts alleged by Young Thug
- "Theft by receiving stolen property," for allegedly possessing a stolen gun.
- "Theft by receiving stolen property," for allegedly possessing a stolen gun in a second, separate instance.
- "Terroristic threats," for allegedly telling someone who said he was "not welcome" at Perimeter Mall, "If you continue to approach, I'll shoot you in the face with a gun."
- "Possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute."
- "Possession of hydrocodone with intent to distribute."
- "Possession of marijuana with intent to distribute."
- "Participation in criminal street gang activity."
Several of the charges are related to social media posts, with references to "YSL" or "Slime" and alleged gang signs or captions indicating gang membership.
Many of the charges are related to Young Thug's rap lyrics: Several of his songs are used as evidence in the indictment, as an "overt act in furtherance of the conspiracy."
First Amendment issues with reliance on song lyrics and an attorney's take on the charges against Young Thug
There are First Amendment issues with citing social posts such and musical lyrics such as in this case, according to 11Alive legal expert Page Pate.
He said they're frequently used in RICO cases in Georgia, but that he thinks in this case it could be "problematic" for the prosecution.
"This is a very aggressive move by Fulton County prosecutors... I think here they may have gone a step too far, because they're charging these individuals with criminal activity - crimes under Georgia law - which really may be limited to things they've said either on social media or in song lyrics," he said. "And ultimately I think that's gonna be a problem - the jury is going to want to see evidence that these individuals, each one of these individuals, actually committed some sort of crime separate from just being part of this organization."
He added that "you can be tied up with other folks, you can be a member of a gang, and still not be held criminally responsible for what some other gang member may do unless you're aware that that's going on."
"So I think that's gonna be kind of hard to prove in this case. They have to show intent and they have to show knowledge. It's not just being a part of a group, it's gotta be more than that."
The songs referenced in the indictment can be found below:
List of song lyrics alleged as evidence of gang activity
- "Eww": “Red just like Elmo but I never ******* giggle,” “YSL won’t fold, pick his *** off from the balcony,” “YSL, wipe a ***** nose,” “I’ma **** for the cash then she getting robbed by Tick,” “In a Bentley on West Lee getting trailed by sniper,” “All I ever wanted was the money, put your hands in the air if you dare, any ************ to step over here, F&N put em in a wheel chair."
- "Slime ****": “Hey, this that slime ****, hey, YSL ****, hey, killin 12 ****, hey, **** a jail ****, hey, cooking white brick,” “I’m not new to this, hey, I’m so
true to this, hey, I done put a whole slime on a hunnid licks,” “slime or
get slimed,” “I’m in the VIP and I got that pistol on my hip, you prayin
that you live I’m prayin that I hit, hey, this that slime ****,” “****,****
the police (****’em), in a high speed,” “hundred rounds in a Tahoe,”
“I’m prepared to take em down,” “got banana clips for all these ******
actin monkey,” “this that slim ****, this that mob ****,” “**** the judge,
YSL, this that mob life."
- "Anybody": "I never killed anybody but I got something to do with that body," “I told them to shoot a hundred rounds,” “ready for war like I’m Russia,” “I get all type of cash, I’m a general."
- "Bad Boy": “you better watch the way you breathe around me fore that breath be your last, boy,” “Smith & Wesson .45 put a hole in his heart better not play with me, killers they stay with me,” “I shot at his mommy, now he no longer mention me,” “I had on Margielas when I shot at the ****, act like you want war and they gon’ smoke you like a blunt."
- "Just How It Is": “I escaped every one of the licks cause I was supposed to be rich, I don’t care nothing bout no cop, I’m tellin you just how it is,” “Hit em with the MAC now, now his whole 'body scabbed,” “I done for the crew, I done did the robbin, I done did the jackin, now I’m full rappin,” “last ***** tried me almost got popped in Lenox, ask the cops, ask the detectives, they know all the business, ask the cops and the detectives, all the jun'sdictions,” “gave the lawyer close to two mil, he handles all the killings,” “we don’t speak bout **** on wax, it’s all mob business, we know to kill the biggest cats of all kittens."
- "Take It To Trial": “take this **** to ************* trial,” “for slimes you know I kill, trial, I done beat it twice, state, I’m undefeated like feds came and snatched me, I don’t know, no point in asking, I was on Bleveland, stuck like a magnet, ***** *** *****, I shoot at your mammy, need to stand down, I up my stamina, take it to trial, get an appeal, take it to trial, yeah, you gon wack em,” “pay for that casket, that’s just if we whack em,” “my young ****** pulling up, Bentleys, Aston Martins, Raris and Teslas, Strapped with a FN, choppas, carbons,” “ YSL slimey and shady,” “watch me whack that *****, pop em like a cyst, Glock with the assist."
- "Really Be Slime": “My *****, really, they slime, and we committing them crimes,” “hop out and shoot,” “roll one up for the gang,” “you wanna be slime? Go catch you a body,” “me and lil bro, we used to steal from the store, we had to stick it and go."
- "Slatty": “I killed his man in front of his momma, like **** lil bruh, sister and his cousin,” “I shoot out,” “kill em, not leaving a trace,” “I had to break in the safe, yeah, and I didn’t leave em a trace,” “dissect your body like science class, *****,” “gangster cause you got a body, lil *****, magazine clips, so you might get your issue, you think you gangster cause you got a pistol,” “look at my trigger, my trigger start itching,” “YSL, we going overboard."
- "Ski": “I **** with slatts and we come to eat rats and I came with some ****** piranhas” “I tote an FN on me, call Neechie-Neech, it’s a Glock he keep” “Duke Rollin’ 60’s, he locked in C’s."