JACKSONVILLE, Florida. – Eight years after her son’s shooting death, viral rap clips have reopened old wounds for Tonya Love.
Love said she was shocked recently to see a video poking fun at her son’s death going viral on TikTok.
“I heard my son’s name, Prosper, I’m like oh my God. It brought tears to my eyes,” Love said.
Love’s son Prosper Johnson was 17 when he was killed in a shooting on Jacksonville’s Northside in 2014. Now that she’s seen her son’s name along with other victims of the violence army mocked in rap videos that feature details of the fatal shootings she takes action.
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Love created an online petition on Change.org to remove music related to gangs and internet violence.
Over the years, Love has turned her grief into her mission. She started a non-profit organization in her son’s honor called “No Weapon Shall Prosper” which advocates for gun violence awareness with her own voice in music videos.
Since her son’s name is used by the nonprofit, she hopes to register his name to prevent her name from being used in other songs with violent lyrics.
John Phillips, an attorney who is not related to her situation, said the trademark can be tricky given that artists have a right to free speech.
“The problem is you’re dealing on behalf of a deceased person and the law just hasn’t done a good job of protecting it,” Phillips said.
Phillips said that while parents like Love can’t legally have the songs taken down, applying pressure and awareness can help.
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“The mother pressuring the record companies and venues that play the songs can operate independently of brand and First Amendment,” Phillips said.
Love said she wouldn’t give up the fight to protect her son’s name.
News4JAX has contacted TikTok over concerns about these videos. We’ve also spoken with other mums whose sons’ names have been used in rap videos, they tell us they’ve tried contacting different social media platforms but never got a response.
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