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February is African American Heritage Month and WERS AT NIGHT is honoring one artist or one song every day this month that helped contribute to social consciousness, political responsibility, or civil rights. At WERS, we believe that these songs are always bigger than just entertainment; music can be used to drive a movement or even motivate a nation.
The song we are honoring tonight is “Police and Thieves” by Junior Murvin
This song was released in 1976 during a time where civil rights and anti-war protests were at an all time high. Junior Murvin released this song to make people wake up and pay attention. His lyrics are simple and to the point. The songs are about police and thieves basically doing the same thing. On one side are the cops and he says: “all the peacemakers have turned into war officers.” On the other side are the thieves committing crimes against innocent people.
Junior Murvin uses this song to address how the government was using violence against violence. He wanted people to realize that only peace can stop violence. If the police keep using their aggressive tactics to combat thieves and vice versa, no peace or happiness can come from that. This song definitely represents the era that it was created in. Amidst many protests following the Vietnam War ending in 1975, this song was relatable to so many people affected. One voice from Jamaica created an impact on open ears in America and worldwide. This song has been covered by many artists and bands including The Clash, Culture Club, and The Orb.