Rapper Belly slams police raid on his home

Ottawa rapper Belly is speaking out against a police raid last Friday that caused an estimated $30,000 damage to his home in Ottawa's rural southern outskirts.

Hip-hop artist says he is the victim of stereotyping

'I just feel like this is violation,' said Belly of the search of his studio and the rest of his home. ((CBC))
Ottawa rapper Belly is speaking out against a police raid last Friday that caused an estimated $30,000 damage to his home in Ottawa's rural southern outskirts.

He thinks he is the victim of profiling based on negative stereotypes about rappers and hip-hop music.

"I'm so twisted up about [the raid] right now. I have so many mixed emotions about it — I get angry, then I get sad, then I get frustrated. It's like I got nowhere to turn about it," Belly said Monday as he showed reporters the smashed glass, punctured wood and gouged frames of the doors to his studio and utility room.

"Every musician knows your studio is like — it's a bubble for you. It's a personal space. This is where I work, where I create. It's crazy. I just feel like this is violation."

Officers from the Ontario Provincial Police and Ottawa police, including a the provincial weapons enforcement unit, a tactical unit, canine unit, police guns and gangs unit, executed a search warrant for firearms in the area of Shadowridge in the village of Greely, confirmed an Ottawa police news release.

The raid, which was captured by security cameras, shows helmeted, armed police breaking the door with a battering ram. ((CBC))
The raid, captured by a security camera, shows armed, helmeted tactical officers breaking through the front door with a battering ram, entering the home, and attempting to smash the security camera with a baton. They are followed by officers from other squads — about 25 in all, including the tactical squad.

Officers went on to search the rapper's drawers, clothes, under his mattress, and seize two safes full of personal documents such as passports, Belly said.

The release said several imitation firearms were found, along with body armour, but no one was arrested and police don't expect to lay any charges.

Belly, whose real name is Ahmad Balshe, said even mentioning the "firearms" was "kind of low."

"They're not even replicas. Those are BB guns from Canadian Tire," he said. "I just wish that police would straighten out the story."

He added that the vest is a legal one that he wears in crowds during situations that are "touchy."

'I wouldn't be that stupid'

Belly estimates the damage caused by the raid was about $30,000, including the gouged frame, punctured wood and broken glass of this door. ((CBC))
Belly said he does not own a handgun.

"Handguns are illegal in this country," he said. "I wouldn't be that stupid. I have a good life … I wouldn't jeopardize the good life that we worked so hard to get."

Belly estimates that the damage to his home, which he worked hard to renovate for his music studio, is around $30,000, and he is far more upset about that than the mess left after the search of his personal belongings.

Because the home has an electronic locking system, it won't be easy to fix the doors, such as the damaged front door, he said.

"We're going to have to go back in, replace locks. This door is probably going to have to be replaced because of the outside damage from the battering ram."

In addition, he said, police still have two of his safes, which contain personal documents such as passports.

Belly alleges that this isn't the first time he has been targeted by police, who he says have pulled him over dozens of times for alleged violations such as a bent licence plate and too much snow on the back lights.

Belly has won a number of awards for his music, including a Juno in April and a MuchMusic Award last fall.