On January 27, 1991, at a record-release party for the rap duo Bytches With Problems in Hollywood, producer/rapper/then-N.W.A. member Dr. Dre brutally attacked Dee Barnes, the host of a well-known Fox show about hip-hop called Pump It Up! Dre was reportedly angry about a Pump It Up! segment hosted by Barnes that aired in November 1990. The report focused on N.W.A., and concluded with a clip of Ice Cube, who had recently left the group, insulting his former colleagues. Soon after the attack, Barnes described it in interviews: She said Dre attempted to throw her down a flight of stairs, slammed her head against a wall, kicked her, and stomped on her fingers. Dre later told Rolling Stone, “It ain’t no big thing – I just threw her through a door.” He pleaded no contest to assault charges. Barnes’s civil suit against Dre was settled out of court.
Barnes agreed to watch F. Gary Gray’s just-released film about N.W.A, Straight Outta Compton, and reflect on it for Gawker.
I never experienced police harassment until I moved to California in the ‘80s. The first time it happened, I had just left a house party that erupted in gunfire. A cop pulled me over and ordered me out of the car. I was 19, naive, and barefoot. When I made a move to get my shoes, the cop became aggressive. He manhandled me because he supposedly thought I was grabbing for a weapon. I’m lucky he didn’t shoot me. There I was, face down on the ground, knee in my back. In June, I was reminded of what happened to me when I watched video of a police officer named Eric Casebolt grabbing a 15-year-old girl outside the Craig Ranch North Community Pool in Texas, slamming her body to the ground, and putting his knee in her back.
Three years later—in 1991—I would experience something similar, only this time I was on my back and the knee was in my chest. That knee did not belong to a police officer, but Andre Young, the producer/rapper who goes by Dr. Dre. When I saw the footage of California Highway Patrol officer Daniel Andrew straddling and viciously punching Marlene Pinnock in broad daylight on the side of a busy freeway last year, I cringed. That must have been how it looked as Dr. Dre straddled me and beat me mercilessly on the floor of the women’s restroom at the Po Na Na Souk nightclub in 1991.