‘An Affront to Our Dignity’: Tyler Perry Says Racial Profiling of Black Airport Travelers ‘Must Stop’

Tyler Perry is taking a stand against racial profiling

Published Time: 07.06.2024 - 04:31:14 Modified Time: 07.06.2024 - 04:31:14

Tyler Perry is taking a stand against racial profiling.

In an op-ed published by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Thursday, June 6, the filmmaker and actor, 54, weighed in after two of his peers filed a lawsuit earlier this year for allegedly being unlawfully stopped by authorities at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport.

Perry identified the individuals who experienced the alleged unfair treatment as comedians Eric André and Clayton English.

“André and English were targeted and stopped by Clayton County Police Department (CCPD) officers, several months apart, on jet bridges in Atlanta’s airport while they were steps from boarding their flights,” Perry wrote. 

The Mea Culpa filmmaker added that André and English, both Black men, had already gone through TSA and been cleared, and therefore had no reason to be stopped by authorities prior to boarding.

Still, Perry alleged that the comedians “were approached by plain-clothed Clayton County police officers” because of “the color of their skin.”

The Madea talent expressed his support and shared statistics provided by André and English’s attorneys, claiming that “of the hundreds of passengers stopped by CCPD’s special airport drug unit in the months between when André and English were stopped, a majority (56%) were Black, while only 8% of that airport’s domestic air travelers are Black.”

Perry believes the results are not a coincidence. 

He shared additional “disturbing” findings, alleging that when authorities stop travelers, “officers are allowed to seize any property they claim is involv -

ed in a crime, including cash, a process known as civil asset forfeiture.”

The New Orleans native wrote that retrieving such funds “is notoriously difficult and expensive for victims” even if they are never charged for committing said crime. 

“In other words, police can take money straight from the pockets of innocent people and put it into their department’s coffers,” Perry wrote. “In the months between when André and English were stopped, CCPD raked in close to $1 million from travelers who never were charged with any crime.”

The filmmaker, who owns a 330-acre studio space in Atlanta with 12 soundstages, expressed concern for the city’s economy if a possibly corrupt police department is targeting travelers.

“When racial discrimination occurs unchecked, it threatens that growth,” Perry wrote after mentioning how his studio welcomes “thousands of industry professionals every year to work in Atlanta.”

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He added, “More than that, it’s simply wrong."

“Every act of racial discrimination is a broken promise, an affront to our dignity, an insult to Atlanta’s history and a vestige of a history that America must leave behind.”

PEOPLE reached out to Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport and the Clayton County Police Department for comment, but did not immediately hear back.

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