The Legal Defense Fund (LDF) filed an amicus brief in André et al. v. Clayton County, Georgia on behalf of internationally recognized Black comedians Eric André and Clayton English, who, on their way to board their flights out of the Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, were racially profiled, unlawfully detained in a narrow jet bridge, and interrogated without basis by Clayton County Police Department (CCPD) officers . These detentions were made pursuant to the CCPD’s drug interdiction program, which has been alleged to discriminate against Black people and disproportionately subject them to coercive, suspicion-less stops on airport jet bridges.
Mr. André and Mr. English challenged CCPD’s discriminatory policing program and claimed violations of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment. The district court dismissed their claims, and Mr. André and Mr. English have appealed the decision to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, where LDF is joining as amicus in support of appellants.
LDF’s brief argues that CCPD’s drug interdiction program perpetuates the harms of racial profiling, restricts Black people’s freedom of movement, and exacerbates post 9/11 airport security measures that disproportionately bear on Black people and people of color. The brief further argues that the district court erred in dismissing Mr. André’s and Mr. English’s claims, and that allowing these claims to be dismissed would bar victims of discriminatory policing from securing justice in the courtroom.
“The law does not allow police officers to racially profile passengers on a narrow jet bridge without any suspicion of wrongdoing or criminal activity. But that is exactly what Clayton County Police Department officers did to Eric André, Clayton English, and countless others,” said LDF Assistant Counsel Alaizah Koorji. “The CCPD’s interdiction program is another iteration of the ‘war on drugs’ law enforcement policies that racially profile Black people and cause significant dignitary harms. We urge the Court to allow plaintiffs to move forward with their claims so they can challenge this plainly discriminatory policing practice.”
“The Clayton County Police Department has embarked on a campaign of harassment through an interdiction program that is unconstitutional, perpetuates deeply anti-Black policing practices, and does not meaningfully combat drug trafficking. CCPD officers quite clearly violated the constitutional rights of Eric André and Clayton English by trapping them and interrogating them in a brazen display of racial targeting and harassment,” said Molly Cain, LDF John Payton Appellate and Supreme Court Advocacy Fellow. “This case reflects a larger pattern of Black people being subjected to increased police scrutiny and racial profiling while in airport settings. The court cannot allow this to continue, as doing so would allow the CCPD to continue discriminating against Black people with impunity.”
Founded in 1940, the Legal Defense Fund (LDF) is the nation’s first civil rights law organization. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multi-disciplinary and collaborative hub within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the Legal Defense Fund or LDF. Please note that LDF has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights.