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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Column: Wiz Khalifa’s arrest is an overreaction

Last week, Wiz Khalifa, the rapper, was arrested in Los Angeles International Airport for riding a “hoverboard”.

While this is about as far as the headlines and coverage of the event get, Khalifa’s arrest is another example of the disturbing police—in this case Customs and Border Agents—brutality now ubiquitous against black bodies in this country.

Regardless of the danger of his actions at LAX—riding a small, self-contained vehicle couldn’t have been more dangerous than standing near the idiots who suck at using the moving walkway—the excessive force and sheer amount of officers that arrested Khalifa was a ridiculous display of inappropriate power.

The airport is a serious place. As someone who has accidentally left my luggage unattended, I know this.

According to the Transportation Security Administration, National Security Administration and Customs regulations in their very vague and official statement regarding Khalifa’s arrest and detainment, “all travelers arriving into the U.S. are subject to CBP inspection, and … must follow officers’ instructions while in the Federal Inspection Service area. … An uncompliant passenger or any disruptive behavior could put many at risk in this highly secure area.”

Apparently, Khalifa was “uncompliant” in riding his hoverboard.

If you’ve ever seen Wiz Khalifa, you would recognize him as a tall, skinny and overly chill dude (probably due to all the weed). Riding that hoverboard was probably the fastest that guy has ever moved.

He is undoubtedly less of a threat than the old white people who don’t understand why they can’t have garden shears in their carry-on or the greatest threat to national security: children who have gotten off their child leashes and are now terrorizing strangers in the airport.

Even if Wiz was a scary looking guy, which he is not, anyone who has watched the video of his “arrest” knows two things: he didn’t need to be arrested, and there were enough cops involved to arrest 10 Wiz Khalifas.

Thrown to the ground, handcuffed and repeatedly screamed at, his arrest is in no way parallel with the degree of his “crime” and wouldn’t have happened to a white teenager doing the same exact thing in LAX.

Khalifa, who has been arrested a myriad of times for drug-related charges, is no stranger to arrest. During the incident at LAX, there is a very clear video of Khalifa calmly stating, “I am not resisting, sir,” over and over again as officers swarm him, beat him and demand that he “stop resisting.”

In a similar vein, it is also very simple, as a bystander, to label Khalifa as an entitled celebrity, refusing to comply with standard airport regulations and rules.

On Twitter, Khalifa tweeted (amongst a ton of other very interesting tweets which composed a sort of post-arrest tirade) this: “I stand for our generation and our generation is gonna be riding hover boards so if you don’t like it eat a dick!”

While he probably shouldn’t have been riding a motorized vehicle in an airport, the response associated feels more in line with someone who had packed a gun in their duffle—no one has ever been tackled, handcuffed and repeatedly slammed into the ground for riding a razor scooter.

This excessively brutal arrest occurred because there is no recourse for law enforcement for behaving horribly towards people of color.

Marty McFly would not have been arrested, so why was Wiz Khalifa?

Follow Nick Havey on Twitter.

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