Atlantans react to rapper T.I.'s assist in Colony Square jumper case
Two days before a scheduled return visit to a federal judge after allegedly violating the terms of his parole, Atlanta rapper T.I. was being called a hero Wednesday after he helped talk a distraught man off a 22-story ledge at Colony Square at 14th and Peachtree.
Atlanta Police had shut down traffic on Peachtree street as the drama developed during V-103 FM's Ryan Cameron afternoon show (V-103 is housed along with sister station Dave FM at Colony Square).
T.I. showed up on the scene, offered his help, shot a brief video message to the man (later identified by the first name Joshua) and made good on a promise to meet with him after he descended the building.
Since Cameron has known T.I. for years, he helped to coordinate the effort and later got the exclusive on air after T.I. called in to discuss the incident.
"It was destined to happen," T.I. told Cameron on air. "I was headed to a video shoot. I heard it on the radio as I was coming out of my driveway. I asked if I could be of any help. I just told him [on video] that I was here and I was looking forward to meeting him. I said, 'No matter what's going on in life, it will get better. I know this from experience.' I told him, 'You know I know.'"
APD's James Polite was in studio with Cameron and publicly commended the rapper, whose given name is Clifford Harris, on his assistance.
"He didn't have to do it," Polite explained. "When he offered to help, it raised our level of being able to help this young man. Mr. Harris was very genuine out there."
Countered Cameron in a follow up tough question for T.I.: "Because we live in a society of critics, some will say the timing of this is quite impeccable, that you have something to gain for your own."
Responded Harris: "I'm not taking any credit. God put me in a position or put in my spirit to be in a position to help. I didn't wake up this morning and think, 'I'm going to help someone off a ledge today.' People have a right to be critical. I don't expect this to have any impact on my situation at all."
After the story blew up nationally on TMZ.com and CNN, fans and foes alike took to Twitter and Facebook to comment. Many praised T.I. while the cynical even alleged that the multi-millionaire somehow managed to orchestrate the entire event.
According to Atlanta's 360 Media public relations owner Tara Murphy, being hailed as a hero in a national news story will only help T.I. as he enters a courtroom Friday to find out whether or not his parole will be revoked.
Murphy followed the story on Twitter Wednesday and watched the coverage on TV Thursday morning.
"This will definitely help," she said. "Any time you're able to go into a negative situation with a positive, it can only help you, media-wise. This will no doubt soften things a bit for him. But it's really going to come down to the judge and how he weighs this good deed next to possibly looking foolish for going too lightly."
What's your take on Tip's help Wednesday? Brilliantly timed publicity stunt or genuine effort to help someone in need?