Actor and comedian Eric Andre said he was racially profiled by two law enforcement agents in an Atlanta airport Wednesday as he was preparing to board a plane.
He said two plainclothes officers stopped him in the Delta T3 terminal at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International 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,” he tweeted.
He said he was the only person of color in the line to board the plane. They let him go, and he was able to board his flight, he said.
He was unable to determine at first which agency the officers were with. He said at first he understood it to have been the Atlanta Police Department or Drug Enforcement Administration, but spokespeople for both agencies told HuffPost they were not involved.
Several hours later, the Clayton County Police Department took responsibility for the interaction but denied Andre’s version of events.
“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,” the statement reads.
“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.”
Andre said he never consented to a search, and accused the officers of racism and harassment. He described the statement as being “sad and full of misinformation.”
I did NOT volunteer to a search and I did not volunteer to talk. You guys flashed your badge and detained me with no probable cause except for racism. This is JIM CROW RACISM @ClaytonCountyPD I DID NOT VOLUNTEER TO A SEARCH. YOU ARE HARASSING ME. THIS IS RACISM! @KeishaBottoms
— Eric Andre (@ericandre) April 22, 2021
The airport also issued a statement, noting that multiple law enforcement agencies at federal, state, county and local levels operate there.
“After learning of Mr. Andre’s tweet this afternoon, we determined that the incident involved officers from the Clayton County Drug Task force. The task force operates separately from the Atlanta Police Airport Drug Interdiction Unit.”
It said officials from the APD and airport would meet next week with Clayton County law enforcement officers to review procedures.
Tara Ziemba via Getty Images Eric Andre said he was in Atlanta to film his new movie.
After Andre mistakenly identified the officers as APD agents in his initial tweet, the public affairs director of the Atlanta Police Department said in an email at the time that 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.”
So glad to hear Atlanta PD doesn’t operate like this, but who was the agency that interrogated me and why does ATL allow an agency with those kinds of random search rules to operate in one of the busiest airports in the world? @DEAHQ @KeishaBottoms
— Eric Andre (@ericandre) April 21, 2021
In a tweet directed at Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, Andre said, “I know this isn’t the PD you want representing in your airports.”
After he tagged her in multiple tweets, the mayor wrote back saying she was looking into the incident.
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. https://t.co/PhhCMxDbM2
— Keisha Lance Bottoms (@KeishaBottoms) April 21, 2021
Representatives of Andre, Delta Air Lines and the Clayton County PD did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s requests for comment.