Following complaints from a black rights activist, an Oregon police department has changed the name of a K9 police dog that shared a nickname with rapper "Lil' Kim."
The dog, a Belgian Malinois shepherd, was given the nickname "Lil' Kim" as a reference to her smaller size, according to Oregon Public Broadcasting. "Lil' Kim" is the stage name of Kimberly Jones, a Grammy-award winning hip-hop musician.
Rapper Lil' Kim. (Maury Phillips/Getty Images)
But Bend Police Chief Mike Krantz said the K9 will only be called by her actual name, Kim, moving forward, after he met with a local activist — Riccardo Waites, founder of the Central Oregon Black Leaders Assembly — who claimed the dog's nickname is "hurting people in the community."
In fact, Waites emailed Krantz earlier in March explaining exactly why the dog's nickname was unacceptable
"While it may appear a small or inconsequential matter to some, it is not to those of us who remember how police dogs were used against peacefully protesting civil rights workers and People of Color in the 1960s and are still used as a means of crowd control and intimidation today," Waites said, OPB reported.
Waites later said in a video, "It's a little tiny black dog, K9 dog, that the police call 'Lil' Kim.' If you're a person of color, or if you're a fan of Lil' Kim, you know her significance in Hip Hop. You also know that she's a gangster rapper. ... Just to be honest, I don't want to see Lil' Kim out there biting people of color."
What did the chief say?
Krantz denied the dog, who has been with the Bend Police Department for years, shared a name with the rapper.
However, he said changing what name his department calls the police K9 is a good-faith decision to avoid offending some members of the community.
"Although the dog is not named after a musician, it's important to recognize that some people may assume that or believe that," Krantz told OPB. "I think in the eyes of some community members there is a connection historically to the use of dogs, specifically on protestors and black community members, and that, that could bring a fear of canines."
On Friday, Waites wrote on Facebook that he is "appreciative of the department for stepping up and listening to community."