This week, Eric André said he was racially profiled at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and tweeted that plainclothes police had targeted him for an allegedly random drug search. The next day (Thursday, April 22nd) André appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live! for a scheduled interview about his new film Bad Trip. In an 11-minute section, André went into detail about the profiling incident and described the behavior of the Clayton County Police Department as “old-school Giuliani profiling for racist layovers.”
André unpacked the racial dynamics of the search, pointing out that he was flying business class on a domestic flight and that he was the only black person on the jet bridge. The white cops who interrogated him were from the Clayton County Police Department, André said. Both Kimmel and André found that it was unusual to conduct a search on the jet bridge when André had already taken the safety precautions.
André refused to have his luggage searched and was allowed to get on his plane. At that point, he joked, he was “really woken up” and started tweeting various agencies (up to and including Joe Biden) over the plane’s WiFi. “And then the Atlanta mayor starts tweeting me back,” he added with a laugh. “I think, oh, I didn’t know this was going to work.” The mayor apologized to André and said she was investigating.
At a press conference Thursday, a representative from the Clayton County Police Department issued a statement downplaying the incident. The department also released a written statement that Kimmel read in the video below. André denied highly controversial elements of the statement, in particular the allegation that officials refused to search André’s luggage despite obtaining consent. “That was a bleak lie,” he said. The airport issued its own statement saying it would “meet with Clayton County law enforcement officers next week to review the proceedings.”