Comedian Eric Andre claims racial profiling at Atlanta airport
ATLANTA - Comedian Eric Andre says he was the victim of racial profiling while flying out of Atlanta's airport on Wednesday afternoon.
The 38-year-old actor and stand-up comic said he was singled out of passengers boarding a flight for a random drug search by two plainclothes officers. He said he declined his consent to be searched.
Andre said two plainclothes police officers asked him if he was transporting methamphetamines.
"I'm not Walter White from Breaking Bad,'" the actor said in an interview with TMZ.
The standup comic said he was the only person detained for a random search as he was attempting to board his flight.
His initial tweet reads:
"@Atlanta_Police "I was just racially profiled by two plain clothes Atlanta PD police in @Delta terminal T3 at the Atlanta airport. They stopped me on the way down the bridge to the plane for a "random" search and asked they could search me for drugs. I told them no. Be careful."
Andre added that he was the only "person of color" in line at the time and asked if anyone knew the names of the officers.
"I'm filming in Charleston and I'm connecting in Atlanta to go home, and they're like 'Can we search your bag?' and I was like, 'No, that's against the Constitution," Andre described.
The officers let him go, he said, but that he still wanted the incident reported, even tweeting Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms:
"They let me go. I’m on the plane in the air. I’m fine now but I want this reported. Please any Atlanta lawyer reach out to me. @KeishaBottoms #racialprofiling #jimcrowgeorgia terminal T3 Atlanta airport."
Andre later wrote that he had heard it might have been a DEA agent, something Mayor Bottoms seemed to confirm:
"Sorry to hear about your experience. It’s my understanding that this was not APD, but another one of the many agencies working in the airport. We are working to confirm."
The Atlanta Police Department said it was aware of the social media posts, but it was not involved explaining in a statement that reads in part:
"The Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is somewhat unique in that multiple law enforcement agencies operate there. It appears this incident involved members of another agency. Additionally, members of APD’s Airport Drug Interdiction Unit do not randomly approach travelers and ask to search them. Searches are conducted based on some type of evidence or indication of criminal activity."
Inquiries into the Drug Enforcement Agency in Atlanta were not immediately returned.
Andre tweet both the DEA and Vice President Kamala Harris trying to get some answers.
Hours later, the Clayton County Police Department released a statement that claims it was their officer who encountered Andre.
The statement reads:
"On April 21, 2021, the Clayton County Police Department made a consensual encounter with a male traveler, later identified as Eric Andre, as he was preparing to fly to California from the Atlanta Airport. Mr. Andre chose to speak with investigators during the initial encounter. During the encounter, Mr. Andre voluntarily provided the investigators information as to his travel plans. Mr. Andre also voluntarily consented to a search of his luggage but the investigators chose not to do so. Investigators identified that there was no reason to continue a conversation and therefore terminated the encounter. Mr. Andre boarded the plane without being detained and continued on his travels. The Drug Enforcement Administration and the Atlanta Police Department did not assist in this consensual encounter."
On Thursday, police further explained Andre was not racially profiled and agreed to talk with the officers. They said this type of interaction happens often as part of their officers' duties. Police claim the interaction only lasted about two to three minutes.
"Mr. Andre did give our officers consent to search his belongings but instead the officers chose not to do so because they made the determination that the encounter did not warrant any further inquiry," Officer Aubriel Stroud said.
"Our inquiries have revealed that Mr. Andrew was cordial, personable, and pleasant to speak with," Stroud mentioned.
Stroud said that was their first encounter with Andre.
Andre disputes the Clayton County Police Department's version of things. The actor claims their statement is full of misinformation and he wouldn't allow officers to search his bags.
"I said 'No' because I know my rights," Andre said.
On Thursday, he continued to tweet about the issue saying he hopes the police department stops their racial profiling tactics at the airport and creating more lies about what happened.
TMZ asked if an apology would help.
"Yeah or some like reprimand the police that are clearly racially profiling. Its just happened to me so often," Andre said.
Airport officials said they plan to review policy procedures in the coming days.
Both the police and the airport officials said there is no footage available of the encounter.
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