Singer Wyclef Jean has proof that being a celebrity doesn’t protect you from racial profiling, even when you’re in Tinseltown.
The Fugees’ frontman had a run-in with the law early Tuesday, March 21, when a sheriff handcuffed the wrong robbery suspect and now he’s asking for an investigation with the help of Black Lives Matter.
“Mr. Jean is requesting a formal investigation into racial profiling by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, LAPD chief Charlie Beck and the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Department, while calling upon the ACLU and Black Lives Matter to join him in defense of civil liberties and racial bias,” Jean’s spokeswoman Melanie Bonvicino said in a statement to CNN.
Jean posted a recording of the incident on Instagram, standing in handcuffs against a cop car.
“Just so y’all know, I’m going to sue the LAPD,” Jean says. “I’m going to sue because you took off my hat, you put the cuffs on me.”
A follow-up video revealed Jean was coming from the recording studio with Detroit rapper T-Baby when he said the Los Angeles Police Department placed him in handcuffs “for absolutely nothing.” The New York Daily News reported the Sheriff’s Department actually handled the arrest and the LAPD tweeted they were not involved.
— LAPD HQ (@LAPDHQ) March 21, 2017
“I was instantly handcuffed before being asked to identify myself and before being told why. In the process, I said my name and told them they have [the] wrong person. They proceeded to ignore me and I was treated like a criminal,” Jean wrote on Instagram, expanding on the situation in a tweet.
They proceeded to ignore me and I was treated like a criminal until other police showed up and pointed out they had wrong person.
— Wyclef Jean (@wyclef) March 21, 2017
“As someone who has law enforcers in my family, I was appalled by the behavior of the LAPD,” Jean said.
Authorities responded to a call about an armed robbery at a nearby gas station at around 1 a.m. Tuesday. They told the New York Daily News Jean and his vehicle matched a description the victims provided.
“Jean not only had a similar appearance to the suspect, but he also had a red bandana like the suspect,” Sgt. Walker told the NYDN. He added officers determined Jean was not a suspect and “immediately released” him after being briefly detained.
A report detailing the incident claimed Jean did not listen to officer’s orders not to approach the trunk of the 2002 tan Toyota he was traveling in, which matched the description of either a gold or tan Honda or Toyota the victims described.
“It is reported that Mr. Jean’s furtive movements included actions such as once he exited the vehicle, he started to walk towards the trunk of the car, questioning why he could not get his things out of his trunk, even though he was clearly instructed by deputies not to approach the trunk,” the statement obtained by WeHoville read. “Mr. Jean was also ordered several times not to place his hands near his pockets or his waistband.”
The statement added that after Jean’s 6-minute detention concluded, a representative of the sheriff’s department offered Jean her business card to discuss the matter further, which he accepted.
A short time later, authorities arrested 26-year-old Torrion Falconer, a Black man, who was in the passenger seat of a 1995 tan/gold Acura.
The Sheriff’s Department also issued an apology to Jean via ABC News.
“It is unfortunate that Mr. Jean was detained for six minutes during this investigation, as he had no involvement whatsoever in this violent crime,” it said. “The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is apologetic for any inconvenience this process caused Mr. Jean. We are grateful we were able to apprehend the robbery suspects and that no one was seriously injured.”
Online, many spoke out against the wrongful handcuffing, including activist Deray Mckesson.
we are all suspects. https://t.co/k1uPQmej8O
— deray (@deray) March 21, 2017
Wyclef Jean got wrongfully arrested by LA authorities because he "fit a description". I wonder if he still thinks that "All Lives Matter".
— NUFF (@nuffsaidny) March 21, 2017
@wyclef someone’s gotta tell Trump the Fugees are not Refugees
— Strempel (@AlexStrempel) March 21, 2017
How many famous white people do you see getting arrested for "mistaken" identity? "Wyclef Jean"
— Vespi🇺🇸 (@Vespii009) March 21, 2017