On June 30th, rapper A$AP Rocky, born Rakim Mayers, was detained by Swedish authorities after reports of an altercation between the rapper’s mostly-black entourage and white Swedish locals. It’s been a welter of confusion ever since.
According to Rocky, he and his entourage were followed on the street for some distance by two men who provoked a confrontation which resulted in the rapper and his crew fighting back.
Two separate videos of the encounter have been widely shared. The first shows the rapper trying to calmly reason with the men. The other documents the escalation of the conflict. At one point, Rocky hoists up one of the men and throws him to the ground. before and his entourage proceed to punch and kick him.
Swedish authorities said it is unclear who started the brawl. The rapper has been detained while an investigation is completed. On Monday, authorities announced that they had discontinued the investigation into a Swedish man alleged by Rocky to have instigated the confrontation.
The decision to detain Rocky stems in large part from the fact that Swedish authorities consider him to be a potential flight risk. On Friday, a court in Stockholm approved a request to hold him until a July 25 hearing, at which point it will be determined whether he can be released.
Back on our shores, celebrities, fans, and members of Congress have been rallying to his defense and marshaling what resources they can. Fellow rapper Tyler the Creator — a good friend of Rocky’s and no stranger himself to legal issues abroad — tweeted, “No more Sweden for me.”
Meanwhile, Kanye West and his wife Kim Kardashian West reached out to President Donald Trump in the hope that he could somehow help.
Over the weekend, Trump contacted the Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven to assure him that Rocky was not a flight risk. Trump also offered to personally pay the rapper’s bail.
The problem is, the Swedish judicial system doesn’t offer that recourse. And Lofven has vowed that the rapper will not get special treatment. In a statement, the prime minister explained that, “in Sweden everyone is equal before the law and that the government cannot and will not attempt to influence the legal proceedings.”
A 20-minute phone conversation between the U.S. president and the Swedish leader reportedly was respectful and polite. Nevertheless, TMZ reported that sources believe that the efforts by the White House and the State Department may have backfired, hardening Swedish authorities against showing leniency in Rocky’s case.
Kim Kardashian West and Kanye West’s decision to reach out to the president was not out of left field. Early in Trump’s tenure, Kardashian West successfully lobbied the president to commute the sentence of Alice Marie Johnson, who had been sentenced to life in prison for a drug-trafficking conviction.
By some estimates, there are around 3,000 Americans currently detained around the world. Trump has bragged about his track record freeing Americans imprisoned overseas, and indeed, he has had some success. In October, the president successfully negotiated the release of Andrew Brunson, a pastor who had been detained in Turkey. And he has used summit meetings with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un to advance talks about releasing American prisoners held by the regime.
While it’s unknown at this time whether the president’s efforts may lead Swedish prosecutors to take a harder line, Trump said there was an agreement on both sides to “talk further” and that such talks would resume “in the next 48 hours.”
It’s worth noting that the president’s policies have precipitated a scandalous crisis at our southern border and that his administration has demonstrated abject indifference toward peaceful asylum-seekers.
Trump, meanwhile, feels compelled to show his humanity toward a rapper who got into a street fight.