UPDATE: Shortly after this video was published, 21 Savage was granted a release on bond on Tuesday afternoon as well as an expedited hearing. He is now awaiting a hearing and could still be deported. In a statement, his attorneys Charles Kuck, Dina LaPolt and Alex Spiro said:
“21 Savage asked us to send a special message to his fans and supporters—he says that while he wasn’t present at the Grammy Awards, he was there in spirit and is grateful for the support from around the world and is more than ever, ready to be with his loved ones and continue making music that brings people together.”
“He will not forget this ordeal or any of the other fathers, sons, family members, and faceless people, he was locked up with or that remain unjustly incarcerated across the country. And he asks for your hearts and minds to be with them.”
Kendrick Lamar, Post Malone, SZA, DJ Khaled, Common, J. Cole and over a dozen other celebrities, musicians and activists have joined together in an exclusive video for Mic to call for rapper 21 Savage to be released from the custody of the Immigration Enforcement Agency (ICE).
She’yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, also known as 21 Savage, was arrested by ICE in Atlanta over a week ago and has been placed into deportation proceedings. The rapper and activist is currently being held without bail, which prevented him from attending the Grammys on Sunday, where he was scheduled to perform and was also nominated for two awards for his hit single “Rockstar” with Post Malone.
ICE says 21 Savage is a citizen of the United Kingdom and entered the country legally in July 2005 as a minor, but subsequently overstayed his visa. The rapper has confirmed he was born in the U.K. but his attorney Charles Kuck has called his detention a civil rights violation and dismissed many of ICE’s claims about him, saying “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.”
Many music fans were surprised that 21 Savage’s case was hardly mentioned on stage at this year’s Grammys, even though activists gathered outside the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles ahead of the show.
Post Malone was expected to make some form of a statement during his performance of “Rockstar,” but he did not (although he did wear a t-shirt with the rapper’s name on it backstage.) The most notable mention came from Ludwig Goransson, producer of Childish Gambino’s “This Is America,” who said during his acceptance speech for record of the year, “We want to thank all the rappers on the song. 21 Savage, he should be here tonight.”
But in the new video released on Tuesday, Malone and others are collectively speaking out about 21 Savage’s case, while also highlighting the stories of other undocumented immigrants who have been either detained or deported by ICE and other government agencies.
Over the course of the video, each of the celebrities and activists recount a series of tragic actions which resulted in undocumented immigrants being detained while going about their everyday lives, or “in other words,” as Lamar says, for “just living life in America.”
The artists draw attention to the cases of black undocumented immigrants in particular — including individuals from countries such as Mauritania and Jamaica — whose stories often get less attention in the media.
“These instances can happen to anyone, especially if you’re a person of color,” Sza tells viewers. “No person in this world deserves to be treated like this,” DJ Khaled says.
The full list of artists involved includes: Kendrick Lamar, Post Malone, SZA, Common, J. Cole, Jesse Williams, T.I., DJ Khaled, Jidenna, Yara Shahidi, America Ferrera, Miguel, Future, Vic Mensa, Kendrick Sampson, Mike Tyson and ScHoolboy Q. The video also includes several leading activists, including Patrisse Cullors, co-founder of the Black Lives Matter Global Network; Jose Antonio Vargas, founder of Define American; and Jonathan Jayes-Green, co-founder of UndocuBlack Network.
The video calls on viewers to sign the #Free21Savage petition which was created by a coalition of leading immigrant rights and civil rights organizations, including the Black Lives Matter Global Network, United We Dream, Color of Change, UndocuBlack Network, Define American and the Black Alliance for Just Immigration. As of this article’s publication, the petition has been signed by over 450,000 people. Learn more about the campaign here.
That coalition is expected to hold a press conference in Atlanta on Tuesday to discuss 21 Savage’s case and is also using social media to encourage supporters to call the ICE office in Atlanta and demand 21 Savage’s release.
On Monday evening, the coalition also organized a digital billboard in Los Angeles to raise awareness about 21 Savage’s case.
21 Savage’s case has begun to attract the attention of members of Congress. In a statement released on Monday evening, California representative Zoe Lofgren, who is Chairperson of the House Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship, said the rapper’s detainment “raises a number of questions.”
“As a successful artist in the music industry, it appears that She’yaa has shown through his career and philanthropic activities that he is a responsible member of our society and is a positive contributor to our country, especially the local Atlanta community,” Lofgren wrote.
Here is the list of the everyday actions highlighted in the video which have resulted in undocumented people getting detained, being held in custody, or in several cases, deported:
1. Getting falsely accused of being a criminal.
2. Getting your morning coffee.
3. Leaving the grocery store.
4. Riding the train.
5. Serving meals to the homeless.
6. Standing up for what you believe in.
7. Attending a scheduled immigration check-in.
8. Taking your pregnant wife to the hospital.
9. Driving with your tail light out.
10. Heading to prom.
11. Visiting your son in the Army.
12. Hailing a cab.
13. Seeking asylum while trying to escape violence in your home country.
14. Simply waking up.
15. While jogging.
16. Leaving the hospital after surgery.
17. Getting ready for work in the morning.
18. Accused of having a gang tattoo.
19. Dropping your child off at school.
20. Seeking asylum after being attacked for being gay.
Or in the case of 21 Savage, getting ready to perform at this year’s Grammys (told by Post Malone).
This video was inspired by Mic’s 23 ways campaign against police brutality from July 2016 led by Jamilah King and the Mic editorial team.