Wednesday, October 12, 2022

Eric Andre Suing Over Illegal Atlanta Airport Search

Last year comedian Eric Andre live Tweeted his experience while being pulled for a random drug search by the Clayton County Police Department at the airport in Atlanta [click here if you missed that]. 

Now Eric is suing to end the program that he argues disproportionally affects Black people...

From NBC News
Comedians Eric André and Clayton English are challenging a police program at the Atlanta airport that they say violates the constitutional rights of airline passengers, particularly Black passengers, through racial profiling and coercive searches just as they are about to board their flights.
Lawyers for the two men sued Tuesday in federal court in Atlanta alleging Clayton County police racially profiled and illegally stopped them at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
The two men, well-known comedians and actors, say officers singled them out during separate stops about six months apart because they are Black and grilled them about drugs as other passengers watched.
“People were gawking at me, and I looked suspicious when I had done nothing wrong,” AndrĂ© said in an interview, calling the experience “dehumanizing and demoralizing.”
The police department says that the stops are “consensual encounters” and that they are “random,” but in reality the stops “rely on coercion, and targets are selected disproportionately based on their race,” the lawyers argue.
Police records show that from Aug. 30, 2020, to April 30, 2021, there were 402 jet bridge stops and that passengers’ races were listed for 378 of those stops. Of those 378 passengers, 211, or 56%, were Black, and people of color accounted for 258 total stops, or 68%, the lawsuit says.
The 402 stops resulted in three reported drug seizures: about 10 grams of drugs from one passenger, 26 grams of “suspected THC gummies” from another and six prescription pills without a prescription from a third, the lawsuit says. Only the first and third people were charged.
The 402 stops also yielded more than $1 million in cash and money orders from 25 passengers. All but one were allowed to continue their travels, and only two — the ones who also had drugs — were charged, the lawsuit says. Eight of the 25 challenged the seizures, and Clayton County police settled each case, returning much of the seized money, the lawsuit says.
Carrying large quantities of cash doesn’t mean someone is involved in illegal drug activity, the lawyers argue in the lawsuit, noting that people of color are less likely to have bank accounts and are more likely to carry large sums when they travel.