“Racist and traumatic!” American comedians sue over drug searches at Atlanta Airport

“Racist and traumatic!” American comedians sue over drug searches at Atlanta Airport

American comedians, Eric André and Clayton English, have sued Clayton county police, alleging the two were racially profiled at Atlanta Airport when they were searched for drugs.

André and English claim that in separate incidents, Clayton county police racially profiled and illegally stopped them to ask if they had drugs while travelling through Hartsfield-Jackson international airport.

The lawsuit was filed on Tuesday and alleges that the searches, which the police said were consensual, are administered based on race and rely on coercion. The lawsuit said that 56 per cent of passengers who get searched are black and 68 per cent are people of colour.

The lawyers representing André and English argue that the search program rarely uncovers drugs and often seizes cash that is rarely returned to travellers even if they aren’t charged, according to the suit. Of more than 400 stops conducted, drugs were found three times. Among these incidents is one passenger who had six pills taken away from them as they did not have a prescription, the suit argues.

André said that in April 2021 he arrived at the airport from Los Angeles and was waiting on the jet bridge officers stopped him and proceeded to question André regarding drugs.

“There’s all these people having to squeeze past us on this narrow, awkward jet bridge as I look like this suspicious perpetrator,” André said.

“And I’ve done absolutely nothing wrong. I’m literally coming home from a work trip.”

He said he was then let off the plane, but called the encounter “demoralizing, dehumanizing, racist and traumatic.”

English said he had a similar encounter with the police in October 2020 when he was travelling through Atlanta to Los Angeles. He was allegedly blocked by police officers as he entered the jet bridge, asked if he had drugs and had his boarding pass and ID examined.

“I felt completely powerless. I felt violated. I felt cornered,” he said at a news conference to discuss the lawsuit. “I felt like I had to comply if I wanted everything to go smoothly.”

The comedians are requesting a jury trial and hope that a judge will declare the search program unconstitutional.

“I have the resources to bring national attention and international attention to this incident. It’s not an isolated incident,” said André.

“If Black people don’t speak up for each other, who will?”

Featured Image: Instagram/@ericfuckingandre

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