This week, Chicago rapper Vic Mensa posted a video to his Instagram account, detailing that about $40,000 in donations to his nonprofit, SaveMoney SaveLife (SMSL), was stolen on New Year’s Eve from a South Side storage facility where they had been storing the items.

The TRiiBE spoke to Mensa on Jan. 12. He’s currently in Accra, Ghana, and was overseas at the time the donations were stolen.

“I felt disappointed that we would dedicate ourselves to this community and that someone would do the community dirty like that,” Mensa said.

In our phone interview, Mensa said he learned about the incident from SMSL Executive Director Laundi Keepseagle, who called him in Accra. According to Mensa, about 150 to 200 pairs of shoes, sleeping bags, coats and personal protective equipment (PPE) were stolen from SMSL. 

It took about six months to organize and gather all of the items that were donated by Nike, individuals and other companies. According to Mensa, SMSL was gathering the items for some giveaways: the shoes for another anti-bait truck shoe giveaway similar to the one they did in 2018, and the PPE supplies for SMSL’s street medix program. Plans for the anti-bait truck shoe giveaway were halted when the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March 2020. 

“The day we were scheduled to be moving everything out of the storage facility, there had been a break-in, and we had been set up,” Mensa said. “So many things were stolen that it must have been someone who got a truck and a key. It must have been someone who knew we were moving those things out that day. Disheartening.”

A photo of the donations that Chicago rapper Vic Mensa said was stolen on New Year's Eve. Photo courtesy of SaveMoney SaveLife.

Mensa did not contact the Chicago Police Department (CPD) about the incident.

“I’m not a police person, and what are the police going to do,” Mensa said. “They’re going to go to bat for it? That’s a non-possibility.” 

However, in a follow-up interview with Keepseagle, she told The TRiiBE that she reached out to CPD to report the incident because of the dollar value of what was stolen and for insurance purposes. 

On Jan. 13, CPD spokesman Luis Agostini confirmed that theft occurred and that an incident report was filed. According to the incident report, a lock holding the donated goods was damaged, but there was no sign of forced entry into the building. The shoes were the only items listed in the incident report, according to Agostni, and the reported value was $15,000.

Mensa has long been a critic of CPD. He has publicly spoken out against police brutality and been an active participant in protests and demonstrations that support the movement for Black lives. He is also in support of defunding the police. 

His beliefs about the police are also common themes in his music projects, such as the 2020 single “No More Teardrops” and his 2016 song “16 Shots,” which he penned after former CPD Officer Jason Van Dyke fatally shot 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times in 2014. 

Mensa and his team have suspicions about who might have stolen the donations, but they’re not interested in naming names or filing charges. That outcome, said Keepseagle, is not what justice looks like to them. Their focus is to recoup what was lost to continue to do the work for the community. 

“My goal is to reimagine the hood, to reimagine collaboration and sense of community,” Mensa said. “There’s going to be hiccups and bumps in every road, so [this incident] doesn’t discourage me at all because it doesn’t change the necessity of the work.”

Mensa founded SMSL back in 2018. The organization engages people with art, education, and community service. Its mission is to use art and entertainment to foster sustainable change. 

SMSL is currently accepting donations through Amazon Wishlist and the SMSL website.

is a multimedia producer for The TRiiBE.