A interesting side story to Streets is Watching, concerns the life and times of one Steven ‘Drac’ Johnson. Johnson served as Jay’s barber in the early days of his career and Jay, presumably more as a favor for services rendered than for any proficiency as an actor, cast Johnson in the role of a rival drug dealer.
In the sparse plot of the movie, which reenacts in part the lyrics from Friend Or Foe and Friend or Foe ’98, Johnson’s character rolls into town with a bag full of guns and money and proceeds to get robbed in his motel room by Hova and company. After failing to heed Jay’s warning to leave town and never return, Johnson’s character briefly develops a Jamaican accent (“A gun in your mouth and that’s all you can come up with?”) before finding himself on the wrong end of Jay’s gun. End scene and, with it, Johnson’s short-lived career as an actor.
(Steven Johnson comes in at the 0:16 mark)
Fast forward four years later to the fall of 2002, and we find the real life Steve Johnson fallen on hard times in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, unemployed and diagnosed with AIDS contracted from his recently deceased wife. Apparently nursing a long-held grudge against White America and determined to go out in a blaze of glory – before leaving his apartment, he told his son that he would “make them famous” and scribbled on his wall, “Tell the boys in blue I won’t be easy” – Johnson headed into the East Village armed with “two semiautomatic handguns, a two-shot Derringer, a Samurai sword, dozens of plastic wrist cuffs, and a squirt bottle holding a full quart of kerosene.” In addition, he hooked himself up to a catheter, anticipating a lengthy shootout that would leave little time for bathroom breaks.
On his way into the Village, “looking for ‘happy people’ and seeking to avenge the oppression of black people like him” (according to the NY Times), Johnson listened to a recording of himself saying:
“Get ready to pull your guns on these crackers, son. . .Don’t have no pity, yo. Bang them in the head and let them bleed, son. Let them bleed. Let them cry. Let them scream.“
Eventually arriving outside of Bar Veloce at 2 A.M., Johnson opened fire on one Jonah Brander, who retreated into the bar after being shot in the lung. Johnson followed Brander into the wine bar, shooting him in the back, and proceeded to take all 40 of the patrons hostage, dousing them with kerosene and threatening to light them on fire. When the police eventually arrived, Johnson began shooting at the squad cars. With his attention focused on the police outside the building, two women from the bar jumped on top of Johnson and managed to subdue him (though one women caught a bullet to the shin for her efforts).
After five years of court proceedings, including one mistrial, Johnson was eventually sentenced to 240 years in jail in 2007. My recap doesn’t really do the whole story justice, so if you’re interested in more details you can dig through the Times’ coverage of the trial.