Despite past missteps, Kanye West's current altruism sets a good example for celebrities

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Kanye West showed up at a protest on Chicago’s South Side Thursday evening, after making substantial donations to causes associated with police brutality.

The rapper and Chicago native joined students marching to demand that Chicago Public Schools cancel their $33 million contract with the Chicago Police Department. The movement is part of a wider push to eliminate partnerships between police departments and public schools. Minnesota Public Schools recently canceled their own contract with the Minneapolis Police Department in the wake of sweeping calls for reform spurred by the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis cops.

Representatives for West reached out to organizers with Good Kids Mad City on Wednesday, and said he wanted to join a protest, according to USA TODAY. Unfortunately, Thursday’s orderly rally devolved when West emerged from a black SUV and press and fans clamored to catch a glimpse of the celebrity.

Frustrated at the chaos caused by his presence, some organizers spoke out and called for Kanye to leave. Taylore Norwood, 20, hopped on a megaphone and announced she didn’t want a celebrity hijacking the youth-led protest. Clad in a face mask, dark grey hoodie, khakis and Yeezys, West marched with the protesters for around 30 minutes before departing.

The controversial and mercurial musician has had a dicey track record in recent years in terms of anti-racist activism. It wasn't long ago when West called slavery a choice, argued to abolish the 13th amendment and said Democrats have “brainwashed” Black Americans.

That said, in recent days, West has donated a substantial chunk of change to the families of victims of recent instances of police brutality. He established a 529 college savings fund to fully cover George Floyd’s six-year-old daughter Gianna’s education. The rapper also offered to pay the legal fees for the family of Breonna Taylor, the 26-year-old EMT slain in her home by police, in their civil lawsuit against the Louisville Metro Police Department.

All told, West has donated $2 million of his fortune to legal funds for the families of Floyd, Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, along with funding for some black-owned businesses in crisis in Chicago and other cities, according to CNN.