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Rappers Arrested After Nightclub Performance

June 11, 1990 GMT

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) _ A rap group kept its promise to sing lyrics from an album ruled obscene and authorities kept their word, arresting two members of 2 Live Crew on Sunday after an adults-only concert.

The early-morning arrests came four days after a federal judge declared obscene the Miami group’s album ″As Nasty As They Wanna Be,″ and two days after a local record dealer was arrested for selling the popular recording.

Broward County sheriff’s deputies arrested 2 Live Crew leader Luther Campbell, 29, and singer Chris Wongwon, 26, shortly after the show at a Hollywood nightclub.


″We didn’t want to create any commotion in there, so I told them to let them get out of there and arrest them away from the premises,″ said Sheriff Nick Navarro, who has led a campaign to ban sales of the group’s records.

Deputies pulled over the rappers’ limousine a couple of blocks away from the club, said sheriff’s spokesman Al Gordon.

Only Campbell and Wongwon were taken because the group split up after the performance, heading in different directions in three vehicles, Gordon said.

″We didn’t have enough deputies to cover them,″ he explained, adding that arrest warrants for members Mark Ross and David Hobbs would be issued Monday.

Campbell and Wongwon were booked at the Broward County Jail on the misdemeanor charge of violating a prohibition against obscene performances. The charges were based on the group’s performance of material from the album, which has sold more than 1.7 million copies.

They were freed without bond. No court appearance was set. If convicted, they could face up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Bruce Rogow, 2 Live Crew’s lawyer, said the arrests amounted to police harassment. The rappers themselves had left for a concert in Phoenix and could not immediately be reached for comment.

″To have a dozen sheriff’s officers spending all this time over some dirty lyrics seems to me to be obscene,″ Rogow said.

Plainclothes deputies were inside the club early Sunday as the rap group led the crowd in chanting repeated insults aimed at Navarro, but Gordon said the arrests were not meant as retaliation.

″They announced on TV newscasts they were going to do the songs which the judge has ruled obscene,″ Gordon said. ″That’s pretty much the same reason we arrested the shopkeeper.″


E-C Records owner Charles Freeman sold a record and a tape version of the album to an undercover deputy Friday in front of news photographers. He faces a first-degree misdemeanor charge and is free on $100 bond.

Gordon said the arrests were in keeping with Navarro’s ″contention that if you break the law in Broward County, you’re going to jail.″

Deputies had been checking area record stores since the Wednesday ruling by U.S. District Judge Jose Gonzalez, Gordon said. The only copies of the double album they located were those confiscated in Friday’s arrest, he said.

About 15 police officers and 300 fans were on hand Saturday night as the rappers performed an early show for patrons of all ages at Hollywood’s Club Futura. At that show the group performed what it calls the ″clean″ version of the album’s songs, omitting the controversial lyrics. Many of the young concert-goers shouted the ″nasty″ lyrics themselves.

About 400 people showed up for the later, adults-only ″nasty″ set early Sunday.

In nearby Miami Beach on Friday night, 2 Live Crew performed the ″nasty″ lyrics at another adults-only nightclub show. That performance went off without incident or arrest, despite the fact that the club was in Dade County and therefore covered by the judge’s ruling. The ruling declared the recording obscene in Broward, Dade and Palm Beach counties.