Antavio “T.O.” Tarver has to be regretting the day that he aspired to become a street poet, because had he not, he might be a free man today. The Lakeland, Florida man was recently sentenced to two years in prison because of the lyrics to a rap song that he posted on the Internet’s most famous social networking site, Myspace, nearly 5 months ago.
Tarver, already serving time stemming from a 2007 violation of his probation due to cocaine possession, was unaware that the controversial song was posted on Hood Certified Entertainment’s Myspace page. Even so, the buzz generated around the incident has grabbed the attention of none other than the American Civil Liberties Union, who has entered the legal fray and is strongly considering representing the misguided artist.
The song, originally posted on the site by 27-year old Daniel Barajas because he “liked the beat,” quickly caught the attention of Polk County, Florida’s gang detective unit which quickly launched an investigation into the track’s origin as results lead authorities to Johnson.
Lyrics in the song were heavily scrutinized, receiving substantial amounts of flack by law enforcement officers. Carrie Eleazor, the spokeswoman for Lakeland Police, pinpointed the reasoning behind the scrutiny as members of the law enforcement community were taking seriously certain things that were said.
Johnson dropped the names of two officers, including a deputy that was slain in 2006. Prosecutors later charged Tarver with “two counts of corruption by threat of a public servant;” Johnson plead no contest. Still Howard Simon, executive director of the ACLU, is unclear as whether the lyrics posed an actual threat to the law enforcement or whether they were “credible acts of violence.”