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Two Black Comedians Sue Over Drug Checks At Atlanta Airport

Eric André cleared security at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Airport, gave the gate agent his boarding pass and was moments away from stepping onto a plane when he was stopped by officers with the Clayton County Police Department. Officers questioned André, who is Black, about whether he was selling drugs and what drugs he had in his possession. They asked to inspect his bag. He refused and was cleared to board, but left shaken, reports the New York Times. “I knew it was wrong,” said André, creator of “The Eric André Show,” a stand-up comedian, actor, producer and writer. “It was humiliating, dehumanizing, traumatizing. Passengers are gawking at me like I’m a perpetrator as they’re like squeezing past me on this claustrophobic jet bridge.”

André’s encounter last year echoed another one in 2020 by Clayton English, another Black comedian, at the same airport. The two men sued the police department this month, saying they were unfairly targeted for drug checks. Their lawyers said the department’s practice discriminated against Black travelers who had been cleared by Transportation Security Administration agents. The Clayton County Police Department made stops in a jet bridge interdiction program at the airport between Aug. 30, 2020, and April 30, 2021, the suit said. The stops resulted in a total of three seizures: “roughly 10 grams (less than the weight of one AAA alkaline battery) of drugs from one passenger, 26 grams (the weight of about 4 grapes) of ‘suspected THC gummies’ from another, and 6 prescription pills (for which no valid prescription allegedly existed) from a third.” Two passengers were charged among 402 stops, the suit said. In cases where race was recorded, more than half of the 378 passengers stopped were Black. The police department said Andre "was not racially profiled."

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