Comedians Eric Andre and Clayton English have filed a lawsuit against a police program at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Attorneys for the two took legal action on Tuesday, in federal court, citing that the Clayton County police, in Georgia, unlawfully stopped and racially profiled them.
Andre and English say that their constitutional rights as airline passengers were violated by them undergoing intimidating searches prior to getting on their flights. They added that officers selected them during various stops, six months apart, as a result of them being Black.
The comedians claim that they were questioned about drugs while other passengers watched.
“People were gawking at me, and I looked suspicious when I had done nothing wrong,” Andre stated.
He also says that the process was “dehumanizing and demoralizing.” The program notes that they strive to combat drug trafficking. But, the lawsuit says that drugs aren’t usually found, and no one is ever really charged. It added that the cash that is seized is mostly kept by law enforcement officials.
The men’s legal team said that even though the police say that the occurrences are “consensual” and “random” their methods “rely on coercion, and targets are selected disproportionately based on their race.”
Police departments show that from August 2020 to April 2021, there were 402 jet bridge stops. Of those stops, 211 of them were Black individuals. The lawsuit noted that 68% of the stops in total were people of color.
Also, the suit stated that the 402 stops only lead to three drug seizures and two people facing charges. The stops included seizures of $1 million in cash and money orders from 25 passengers.
8 people appealed the seizures, and Clayton County settled the cases and gave most of the money back, the lawsuit read.