When Denver hip-hop artist Chy Reco heard President Donald Trump refer to protesters against police violence as thugs, he was disgusted.
"I know a lot of people who are protesting," he says. "I know a lot of people who are out doing peaceful things and doing positive things. They’re far from thugs....They’re a person who is tired, a person who has been through and witnessed a lot of the things going on in this country. They’re tired."
Reco — who is one of the rappers on the new song "I Can't Breathe (Again)," which honors George Floyd — decided he wanted to make his message very clear, so he designed a shirt, just in time for Father's Day, that states: "WE ARE...Husbands Fathers Sons Brothers Uncles and Men NOT THUGS." He's released the shirt through QoQ (Quality Over Quantity) Clothing and made a follow-up design for women that reads: "WE ARE...Wives Mothers Sisters Daughters Aunts and Women NOT THUGS"
As a persistent force in Denver's hip-hop scene — one who often deals with deeply personal issues in his music, including the loss of a child — Reco felt it was important to use the platform he's building to speak out against police violence.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Westword's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Denver's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
"I think what’s getting under people’s skin are the people who have platforms and a reach and aren’t saying anything," he says. "When it comes to walking the walk, talking the talk, there are people who are not doing anything [in order] to protect their pocket, to protect their influence, to protect their image. That’s not okay. ... That’s why I decided to use my platform, my clothing line, my music, to be able to say: 'You know what? I don’t have to go out and protest to show I have a message and have something to say regarding this.'"
And his message is that racist violence is nothing new. It's been going on for decades. And it needs to stop now.
"It’s not just George Floyd. It’s Arbery. It’s Trayvon. It’s Eric. It’s Phil. It’s all these people who were not an immediate threat to anybody’s lives whatsoever. It’s that they looked like a thug. This is a time for things to change. ... I have a responsibility to say something, to do something, to contribute something, to bring light in whatever way I can to this issue, no matter what scale it is."
Order a T-shirt through QoQ Clothing.