Eric André and fellow comedian Clayton English have filed a lawsuit against the police program at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport claiming they violate the constitutional rights of passengers — particularly Black passengers.
According to The Associated Press, the suit filed Tuesday (October 11th) alleges that André and English were racially profiled and illegally stopped while boarding a flight, as part of the police program’s effort to combat drug trafficking. Their lawyers claim that Clayton County police officers and investigators from the county district attorney’s office selectively stop passengers in the jet bridges while boarding, interrogate them, inspect their boarding pass and ID, and sometimes search their luggage before allowing the passengers to board.
André tweeted about an April 2020 incident in which he was stopped during a layover in Atlanta: “I did NOT volunteer to a search and I did not volunteer to talk,” André wrote, tagging Clayton County PD and Atlanta mayor Keisha Bottoms. “You guys flashed your badge and detained me with no probable cause except for racism. This is JIM CROW RACISM.”
André said he felt a “moral calling” to file the suit “so these practices can stop and these cops can be held accountable for this because it’s unethical.” He added: “I have the resources to bring national attention and international attention to this incident. It’s not an isolated incident… If Black people don’t speak up for each other, who will?”
André and English are seeking a jury trial, compensatory and punitive damages, and legal costs. They also ask that the Clayton County police jet bridge interdiction program be declared unconstitutional.
The AP points out that, according to Clayton County police records, there were 402 jet bridge stops from August 30th, 2020, to April 30th, 2021, and the passenger’s race was listed for 378 of those stops. Of those 378 passengers, 56% were Black, and people of color accounted for 68%. Of those 402 stops, only three reported drug seizures.
On a lighter note, André will finally return to Adult Swim next year for “Season 666” of The Eric André Show, welcoming guests including Jon Hamm, Natasha Lyonne, Jaleel White, and more. Later this month, we’ll also see the Righteous Gemstones star try out a more dramatic role in Guillermo Del Toro’s horror anthology Cabinet of Curiosities.