Gil Scott-Heron’s Rap

Probable Cause and a Poet’s Problems

"People are becoming felons for minuscule amounts of cocaine," Kitson continued, citing Scott-Heron's situation as only one of many questionable searches and arrests that bring tough sentences under the Rockefeller Drug Laws.

Kitson faced another, unexpected force in court, Scott-Heron's ex-girlfriend Monique de Latour, 37, who now teaches art to kids in Harlem. The day of Scott-Heron's last hearing, de Latour made calls to the D.A. and faxed a private letter to Judge Berkman, alleging intimate details of Scott-Heron's drug addiction, and begged the judge not to send him to prison. "I have heard drugs are easy to get in jail," she wrote in the letter, obtained by the Voice. "If he could be put in a drug program in a place where he cannot leave for at least a year or more, this may save his life." She also stated that Scott-Heron "spends around $2000 a week on cocaine, he does not have a home, he's been living in a crack house for a year," and owes $20,000 for his mother's funeral.

Gil Scott-Heron after a guilty plea to a felony charge of possession of a controlled substance
photo: Geoffrey Gray
Gil Scott-Heron after a guilty plea to a felony charge of possession of a controlled substance

The two met in Australia, and four years ago she flew to New York with her two children to move in with him."We were soul mates," she said, "when he was sober." They lived together until the fall of 1999, when she filed a restraining order and sued Scott-Heron for throwing a drafting table at her, bruising her hand. He plead guilty.

De Latour told the Voice she didn't want to get involved in this case. "But if you had seen what I saw," she said, openly describing a time when she gave Scott-Heron mouth-to-mouth resuscitation because he stopped breathing. She also described coming home to find Scott-Heron "buck naked with a bunch of $2 crack whores," and fits of paranoia, such as when he thought the lightbulbs in the apartment were spying on him and took them all out. "Gil won't admit to having a problem," she said. "But he needs help, before it's too late."

Scott-Heron told the Voice that he hasn't seen de Latour in 18 months and that her comments are outdated and untrue. "She'd have to be one of those ladies reading Tarot cards," he said. "But be careful the way she deals."

He also thought Judge Berkman would have made a different decision if he was given a chance to defend himself, and when he returns from Europe he will try to balance the judge's opinion before his sentencing date in September. He's not addicted to cocaine, he said, and too poor to afford it. When asked if he felt, upon arrest, that his privacy rights were being violated, Scott-Heron said, "I always feel like my privacy rights are being violated."

Click here to read Geoffrey Gray's interview with Gil Scott-Heron.

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