Bob Marley“I Shot The Sheriff” is a song written by Bob Marley. It is a song about justice, innocence and defiance, first released on Marley’s 1973 album, “Burnin’.”

Marley said, “I wanted to say ‘I shot the police’ but the government would have made a fuss so I said ‘I shot the sheriff’ instead … but it’s the same idea: justice.”

This was the last single Marley released with original Wailers Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer, who left to pursue solo careers later that year.

Editor’s note: The Bay View thanks Jean Damu for suggesting we post this right now. He said, “I thought maybe there might be some young people who’d appreciate this, at this moment.”


  1. What would be the reaction to a song “I shot the police” now? This snippet from a defense of Ice T’s “Cop Killer” (at reminds us of the differences between a 1970’s “I shot the sheriff” and a 21st century “I shot the police”:

    But perhaps the best-known case is Eric Clapton’s cover version of Bob Marley and the Wallers’ [sic] “I Shot the Sheriff,” which reached the top of the U S music charts in the mid-1970s (a feat not approached by Ice-T). “I Shot the Sheriff,” though, never suffered the sort of moral and political condemnation leveled at “Cop Killer.” How do we account for this difference?

    First, “I Shot the Sheriff was released by a white artist, and in an era when the availability and allure of firearms and ammunition had not reached the saturation point we see today. Clapton’s white bread portrayal of an armed and heroic Jamaican “rude boy” was therefore comfortably abstract and romantic. In contrast, Ice-T’s shotgun-toting black U.S. gangster is all too concrete, stripped of romantic pretense and lodged uncomfortably in everyday life. Firearms and ammunition are now prevalent in the black community, and are the leading cause of death among young black males. Within the context of gangster rap, artists like Ice-T portray, with chilling clarity, this tragic obsession with lethal weapons.

    But the most ironical response to a portrayal of cop killing was revealed Friday at the Oakland police funeral/police state convention, when laughter and applause arose as Schwarzenegger was identified as “The Terminator”: a movie character whose most famous scene is an orgy of cop-killing – see:

    Oakland PD’s Favorite Cop-Killer: Gov. Schwarzenegger

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