A$AP Rocky treated unfairly in Sweden


Graphic by Stella Schwartzman

Virginia Suardi

A$AP Rocky’s summer altercation and imprisonment in Sweden was unjustly prolonged, exposing the racist tendencies of the Swedish criminal justice system. 

For those who have forgotten exactly what transpired, this summer, rapper A$AP Rocky was arrested and detained in Stockholm, Sweden, on the charge of “aggravated assault”, following videos released the day before by TMZ, a gossip website. The next day, the rapper posted two videos on his Instagram of the previously unseen buildup to the fight. The videos showed Rocky and his group being followed, harassed, and provoked by the two men. In the videos, A$AP and his bodyguards repeatedly ask the men to stop following them, to no avail. Rocky is seen trying to mediate the situation, saying “Listen, listen, we don’t want to fight y’all . . . we don’t want no problems”.  

The videos posted on July 2nd inspired international outrage, but evidently were not enough to clear his name. Later that night, Rocky was arrested. 

Swedish authorities reported that A$AP would be detained for 2 weeks, after which they would decide whether to convict him or not. If he was found guilty, he could’ve potentially serve 6 years in jail. 

Swedish officials were attempting to paint the situation as protocol, a procedure that would ensue following any assault allegation brought to their attention. But this is clearly not the case. In May 2018, white rapper G-Eazy was arrested in Stockholm for the same crime (assault) and more serious charges: possession and use of narcotics. Yet he was released within 48 hours with all charges dropped. Seems a little odd, especially since Swedish prime minister Stefan Löfven insists that “in Sweden, everyone is equal before the law, and this includes visitors from other countries.” Really? Everyone?

G-Eazy himself spoke up regarding the apparent racial discrimination between the two cases. On July 20th, he tweeted “This is the sad truth…The difference between me and Rocky’s treatment in Sweden brings to mind two concepts that disgustingly go hand in hand: white privilege and systemic racism. Let’s call it what it is. He should not be behind bars right now. My heart goes out to @asvpxrocky.”

Although A$AP Rocky has said that race was “not a factor” of his treatment in Sweden, Rocky probably did not want to make the situation worse by accusing the Swedish government of racism, as this would only complicate his case and help to stack the deck against him.

Despite Swedish claims to the contrary, A$AP’s treatment in Sweden is clearly racially exacerbated. How is it possible that G-Eazy, who was convicted of the same exact crime in addition to two other severe crimes, was let go in 2 days with zero punishment, while Rocky was detained for more than three 3 weeks before his trial had even taken place? 

On July 25th, A$AP Rocky was charged with aggravated assault by the Swedish government. On August 2nd, Rocky was found guilty. However, since he had already spent 3+ weeks behind bars, he was dismissed from Sweden and has since returned home. Still, his treatment in Sweden is an unacceptable example of the prevalence of institutional racism in our global society.