drummer and co-founder of The Roots, the legendary hip-hop group and house band on NBC’s Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. He is also a DJ, music scholar and author of the new memoir, Mo’ Meta Blues: The World According to Questlove.
Some have called Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson the "Paul Revere of Occupy Wall Street" after he tweeted them a warning on the night of November 2011 police raid of Zuccotti Park: "Omg, drivin down south st near #ows. Somethin bout to go down yo, swear I counted 1000 riot gear cops bout to pull sneak attack #carefulyall." In this Democracy Now! web exclusive, Questlove tells us the story. See all of our extended interview with Questlove.
AMY GOODMAN: Occupy is certainly a movement that’s put pressure on President Obama. And on November 15, 2011, you tweeted, "Omg, driving down south st near #ows. Somethin bout to go down yo, swear I counted 1000 riot gear cops bout to pull sneak attack #carefulyall."
AHMIR "QUESTLOVE" THOMPSON: Yeah, my apartment is like three blocks away from the park. And so, I was on date night, and I dropped my—I dropped her off on the kind of the Upper East Side, and my driver and I normally take the FDR Drive, which is sort of above where they were, you know, straight to my apartment. But for some reason, FDR wasn’t open, so we had to go in the underpass. And when I was driving, I had never seen it. It was—I don’t know if you know what a Soul Train line is, but it’s basically when guys and the girls are on the left or on the right, and you sort of go down the middle. It was like a Soul Train line of riot gear cops. Like, if it—initially—no, initially, I thought, "Oh, they’re shooting Batman," because I knew that they were also shooting Batman in my neighborhood. But after doing about 20 miles per hour and seven blocks of nothing but riot gear cops—like, it wasn’t like it was just police officers, you know, having a donut and coffee. Like, they had—it looked like they were ready for battle. And I was slowly driving. I was like, "This doesn’t feel right, like something’s about to happen." And I tweeted it out. And, you know, the people at Occupy Wall Street were just like, "Nah, you know, that’s just Batman." And I was, "No, I don’t think so. This looks kind of serious." And again, the leader was like, "Well, no," you know.
AMY GOODMAN: You were called the Paul Revere of Occupy.
AHMIR "QUESTLOVE" THOMPSON: Yeah, and I was like, "I really think you guys should know that there’s something around the corner, like this looks like it’s serious, like I don’t think this is Batman. I don’t see any camera. I don’t see any catering on the side or lights or like—I know—I know movie sets. I’ve been on movie sets. I think they’re coming for you guys." And they were kind of like, "OK, well, you know, we’ll see what’s up." And then I woke up the next morning, and I was just like, "I knew it." Like, "I knew it. I knew it."