Black Lives Matter, others work to help 21 Savage fight deportation
WARNING: This story contains explicit language.
Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors established an online petition to stop his deportation that was fast gaining signatories.
The Bank Account rapper was taken into federal immigration custody in the Atlanta area early Sunday. An official says the rapper is a British citizen who overstayed his visa and who also has a felony conviction.
The campaign, called #Free21Savage, was created on Monday and appears on the Campaigns for Change website.
WATCH BELOW: ICE arrests 21 Savage, says is in U.S. illegally
“The circumstances of Mr. Abraham-Joseph’s detention stand as a testament to the consistent and historically under-reported harassment and targeting of Black immigrants,” the post reads. “The US’ violent history of criminalizing Blackness intersects with its deadly legacy of detaining and deporting Black and Brown immigrants. This needs to stop today!”
“There are around 4.2 Million Black immigrants in the U.S. — 619,000 are undocumented,” the petition reads. ” Mr. Abraham-Joseph has been in the United States since he was a young child. Atlanta is his home.”
As of this writing, the petition has more than 141,000 signatures with a goal of 200,000 signatures.
Black Lives Matter is joined by other civil rights organizations including Define America, an organization attempting to redefine how America understands immigration and citizenship, Color of Change, a civil rights advocacy non-profit, and Undocublack, a network of undocumented black people.
Cardi B, who collaborated with 21 Savage on her song Bartier Cardi, wrote: “We will read and educate ourselves on this situation and we will take action! 21 did not come here illegally and was not caught doing anything illegal or doing any mischief! in fact he have [sic] change his whole life around and as ya can see he’s been very positive in his actions and music.”
She continued: “Now let me get ghetto ….and for ya d**k breath motherf**kers talking bout “sO hE nOt FrOm AtLaNta “ he grew up there !his kids and family live there and BLEW UP there with the support of the community he was raised in.Thank you @21savage for being really good friend to me and @offsetyrn and always coming thru when we need you.”
Other celebrities joined in to show their support for 21 Savage.
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Seen this young kid grow into a king. I watched him build an empire wit very few instructions. I witnessed his growth personally from his first video ever until now. His commitment to change should be acknowledged and supported. I can’t just sit back and watch unnecessary punishment be cast down to one of OUR TREASURES. Anyone who been down before know exactly how much this shit ain’t no joking matter. We love ya and repping for ya all ways possible til you raise UP!!! #Free21
The a lot rapper’s lawyer, Charles H. Kuck, said “the continued detention of Mr. Abraham-Joseph serves no other purpose than to unnecessarily punish him.”
“This is a civil law violation, and the continued detention of Mr. Abraham-Joseph serves no other purpose than to unnecessarily punish him and try to intimidate him into giving up his right to fight to remain in the United States,” he said in a statement.
He continued: “He rose above the difficult circumstances of his youth to achieve success and make contributions to our society that rival any of those by a natural born citizen. Mr. Abraham-Joseph has U.S. citizen children that he supports and is eligible for relief from deportation. We and he will fight for his release, for his family, and his right to remain in our country. No one would expect less from him.”
21 Savage entered the U.S. legally as a child in July 2005, but has been present in the country illegally since his visa expired in July 2006. He was convicted on felony drug charges in October 2014 in Fulton County, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman Bryan Cox said.
He has been placed in deportation proceedings in federal immigration court, Cox said.
“His whole public persona is false,” an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) spokesperson told CNN. “He actually came to the U.S. from the U.K. as a teen and overstayed his visa.”
“He, like almost two million other children, was left without legal status through no fault of his own,” Kuck Baxter Immigration, the law firm representing 21 Savage, said in a statement Monday, adding that he now has U.S. Citizen children of his own.
21 Savage then spent his teenage years in Atlanta, and his image and later his music became defined by the city’s distinctive hip-hop culture. Even the “21” in his name is a reference to the block where he lived there.
“Him growing up in Atlanta is a pretty fundamental part of his story,” Hine said. “His identity is so rooted in his Atlanta sound, his Atlanta crew.”
21 Savage was truthful when he rapped about his youthful exploits in Atlanta, including run-ins with the law over guns and drugs, Hine said. He just left out the stuff that came before that.
While it’s not clear if it had anything to do with his own status, Abraham-Joseph did just recently address the subject of immigration and detention. Last week on the Tonight Show, he added a verse to his song a lot that included the line, “been through some things, but I couldn’t imagine my kids stuck at the border.”
Earlier this week, Dina LaPolt, his lawyer, released a statement following the rapper’s arrest.
She wrote: “We are working diligently to get Mr. Abraham-Joseph out of detention while we work with the authorities to clear up any misunderstandings. Mr. Abraham-Joseph is a role model to the young people in this country, especially in Atlanta, Georgia, and is actively working in the community-leading programs to help underprivileged youths in financial literacy.”
ICE said it “arrested unlawfully present United Kingdom national Sha Yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph AKA ’21 Savage’ during a targeted operation with federal and local law enforcement partners early Sunday in metro Atlanta. Mr. Abraham-Joseph was taken into ICE custody as he is unlawfully present in the U.S. and also a convicted felon.”
ICE’s note continued, “Mr. Abraham-Joseph initially entered the U.S. legally in July 2005, but subsequently failed to depart under the terms of his nonimmigrant visa and he became unlawfully present in the U.S. when his visa expired in July 2006. In addition to being in violation of federal immigration law, Mr. Abraham-Joseph was convicted on felony drug charges in October 2014 in Fulton County, Georgia.”
It concluded, “Mr. Abraham-Joseph is presently in ICE custody in Georgia and has been placed into removal proceedings before the federal immigration courts. ICE will now await the outcome of his case before a federal immigration judge to determine future actions.”
— With files from the Associated PressFollow @KatieScottNews
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