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A$AP Rocky's incarceration is the latest in the continuous fight for black people to be granted humanity

As President Trump crafts a political agenda around Rocky’s detainment in Sweden, the rapper is being subjected to mistreatment in a prison facility in the country.

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The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other agency, organization, employer or company.

-- By Taylor Crumpton

On July 20, President Donald Trump tweeted about his call to Stefan Löfven, Prime Minister of Sweden, in efforts to appease black millennials' concerned over the incarceration of A$AP Rocky by Swedish law enforcement. Trump’s advocacy efforts lacked the utilization of executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government, and instead centered on the weaponization of his finances and white privilege to personally “vouch” for Rocky’s bail. Löfven positively affirmed the president’s interest in Rocky’s incarceration in a criminal justice system that doesn’t employ bail, and stated “everyone is equal before the law and that the government cannot and will not attempt to influence the legal proceedings.” However, back in 2018, G-Eazy was released from Swedish authorities within 36 hours after physical assault and possession of drugs because of his whiteness.

“I personally don’t know A$AP Rocky, but I can tell you that he has tremendous support from the African American community in this country and when I say African American, I think I can really say from everybody in this country because we’re all one,” Trump told reporters on July 19 after an influx of celebrities tweeted their support for the Harlem rapper.

Kanye West -- President’s Trump favorite black -- and Kim Kardashian West -- who took credit for Alice Marie Johnson’s release from prison from Brittany K. Barnett, co-founder of the Buried Alive Project, and MiAngel Cody, two black women lawyers; are in on this, as well. The West family “lobbied” government officials, Secretary Mike Pompeo from the Department of State , President Donald Trump, and Senior Advisor to his father-in-law Jared Kushner about international “justice reform” for Rocky’s three-week hold behind bars.

Outside of Trump’s political agenda to garner the black millennial vote for his re-election in 2020, the Congressional Black Caucus advocated for Rocky’s immediate release to Secretary Pompeo, Ambassador to Sweden, and the United States Embassy in Stockholm; as Rocky is currently being held in solitary confinement, despite the country’s acclaim of deploying one of the most humane criminal justice systems in the world. Yet, reports illustrate the inhumane conditions experienced by the Harlem rapper, such as unclean water, inedible food, and nights spent on a yoga mat as a nearby inmate hurled feces on the wall after a series of self-inflicted wounds. To comfort Rocky’s mother, Congressman Adriano Espaillat visited her in their district of New York’s 13th, alongside the families of Bladimir Corniel and David Rispers, rappers who were also detained. Rep. Espaillat, Congressman André Carson, Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, and Congressman Joaquin Castro -- chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus -- held American and Swedish governments accountable for the lack of urgency regarding the rapper’s release from the Swedish prison facility.

"This is not enough. It is unconscionable that young men that are doing well, they are on the right track in life, they're very successful, they're icons in the hip hop community, are treated under these inhumane conditions," Espaillat, A$AP Rocky’s district congressman said.

The Grammy-nominated rapper was in Sweden as a featured performer for Smash Fest, a festival held in Stockholm, where he encountered two Swedish males who allegedly followed Rocky and his entourage for several blocks while sexually harassing a young woman, according to a video posted on the rapper’s Instagram. Throughout the video, Rocky warned the two men, “We don’t want to fight you all, we’re not trying to go to jail. We don’t want no problems with these boys. They keep following us.” TMZ obtained footage of a physical altercation between Rocky’s crew and the pair of Swedish assailants, one who was under investigation by authorities for abuse, assault and attempted assault. On July 5, law enforcement officials detained Rocky and his associates for probable cause on suspicion of assault, and classified the Harlem rapper as a “flight risk.” Despite the lack of charges, Swedish jurisdiction extended their hold on Rocky until July 25, after a court ruling in the country’s capital.

Contrary to American belief, Swedish civil servants maintain the rapper’s treatment as “standard,” and refused claims about race being a factor in the rapper’s case, even though Quavo disclosed his experience of racial profiling by Swedish officers days after Rocky’s extended detainment. Tyler, the Creator; Schoolboy Q, and Lil Yachty have vocalized a boycott of Sweden, and are standing in solidarity with the rapper’s fans who created #JusticeforRocky, #FreeASAPRocky and #FreeFlacko campaigns on social media, including several petitions.

“We remain deeply concerned about the detainment of Rakim Mayers, also known as A$AP Rocky, and his two companions David Rispers Jr. and Bladimir Corniel. All three of these gentlemen are not only American citizens, they are young men of color. We’re concerned that there is a deliberate and premeditated attempt from the prosecutor to indict these young men, who were victims themselves, not the aggressors. I’ve always said that race matters no matter where you are across the world. I leave it to the general public to make their own conclusion,” Espaillat said.

On the other hand, President Trump spoke about his proximity to the rapper in attempts to dog whistle toward the black community at a press conference held in the Oval Office. "Many, many members of the African American community have called me, friends of mine, and said, ‘Can you help?’" I personally don’t know A$AP Rocky, but I can tell you he has tremendous support from the African American community in this country,” Trump stated. His track record of utilizing press events to invoke whistle blowing includes racially stereotyping April Ryan, weaponizing historically racist linguistics against black sports professionals "taking a knee" and his latest tweet dehumanizing Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, and Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib who he told to "go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came," a term rooted in the ideologies of white supremacy upheld by a “law and order” presidency, reminiscent of his political advocacy as a private citizen to “BRING BACK THE DEATH PENALTY. BRING BACK OUR POLICE!” for the Central Park Five. His ideologies are amplified by the Republican party’s agenda -- the sustainability of a socio political movement birthed from white supremacist principles -- birthed from schools of thought centered on white maleness, as the epicenter of power and privilege throughout the United States.

Amplified by the presidency, one of the most powerful positions in the world, Trump possesses the ability to invoke presidential powers, and release prisoners from incarceration based on their priorities. As President Trump crafts a political agenda around Rocky’s detainment in Sweden’s criminal justice systemRocky is being subjected to prison mistreatment and the accumulation of life-long trauma because his freedom is being weighed out in a justice system that refuses to associate his blackness with humanity. Assata Shakur stated, “Nobody in history has ever gotten their freedom by appealing to the moral sense of the people who were oppressing them.” For generations, the maintenance of black lives have been decided at the hands of predominantly white male stakeholders, their agency removed to appease those in positions of power, while black communities watch as one of their members is exploited for Trump’s political agenda. Rocky is the latest iteration caught in the historical cross-fires of a continuous fight for black people to be granted humanity in a world built off of our dehumanization.

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