Comedians are suing police, claiming Atlanta airport is racist

Successful comedians Eric André and Clayton English announced one Lawsuit against the Clayton County Police Department on Tuesday after the two claimed they were subjected to racial narcotics manhunts at the Atlanta airport.

André and English said authorities approached them on the jetway while they waited in line to board, pulled them aside from the other passengers and asked if they were carrying narcotics. The two incidents occurred about six months apart at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Georgia.

in one press conference on Tuesdaythe comedians said they believe the search practices are illegal and disproportionately affect black people who have already cleared security.

During the searches, the authorities did not find any drugs on either André or English. The two men’s lawyers argued that the encounters violated their clients’ civil rights.

At the press conference, English explained that on October 30, 2020, he was stopped before a work flight from his hometown of Atlanta to Los Angeles.

“I have already presented my ticket to a gate agent. I was almost on the plane when two officers jumped out on the boarding bridge, flashed their badges and started asking questions about whether I had illegal drugs like cocaine and meth,” English said at the press conference. “I felt the need to comply. They forced me to go to the side of the tunnel where they took my ticket and ID.”

After police searched his bag, English was eventually allowed to board the plane, but he said he was worried throughout the trip and waiting for the “other shoe to fall”.

English explained, “I thought, ‘Okay, maybe I’ll get arrested if I land; what did I do wrong; does that usually happen to people?'”

On April 21, 2020, Eric André said he was flying from Charleston, South Carolina to Los Angeles with a stopover in Atlanta. He stated that after he had already passed through TSA, two police officers on the boarding bridge “almost ambushed” him and gave the gate agent his ticket.

André claimed the officers asked him if he had any drugs on him. “It was clearly racial profiling,” said André.

On the same day, the Clayton County Police Department released a statement on Facebookcalled the encounter with André “consensual”.

“Mr André decided to speak to investigators during the first meeting,” the police department’s post said. “Mr André also voluntarily agreed to a search of his luggage, but the investigators decided against it.”

During Tuesday’s press conference, André argued that “it definitely didn’t feel like a friendly encounter”.

Barry Friedman, one of the attorneys representing the comedians in their lawsuit against the police, explained that the searches conducted at the airport were part of a drug interdiction program.

The lawsuit alleged that the program was largely unsuccessful in narcotics seizures, but did seize approximately $1 million from airline passengers from August 30, 2020 to April 30, 2021.

Friedman said that during that period, authorities conducted 402 searches under the interdiction program, resulting in just three instances of drugs being seized from passengers, including 10 grams of drugs from one person, 26 grams of “suspect THC gummy candy.” ‘ from another and six prescription pills without a prescription from a third.

After reviewing police records, Friedman argued that the searches disproportionately affected black people. The co-driver’s race was listed in 378 of the 402 searches performed. The attorney stated that 211 of them, or 56 percent, were black.

A spokesman for the Clayton County Police Department told WXIA-TV that the department could not comment on pending litigation. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport also declined to comment at the time. Comedians are suing police, claiming Atlanta airport is racist

Laura Coffey

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