The trial has begun for American rapper, A$AP Rocky, (legal name Rakim Mayers) who could be facing two years in prison for an alleged assault in Sweden if found guilty. Mayers has been held in custody since early July, after being charged for the incident which took place on June 30.
Details of the case concern the 19-year-old Mustafa Jafari. With a friend, he persisted Mayers and his entourage in the streets of Stockholm until an altercation broke out. The facts of how the fight started are still vague; what is clear are the videos posted on social media from Mayers showing the altercation first-hand. The videos show A$AP Rocky, with two people — including his bodyguard — pleading with Jafari for several minutes to stop following the group, until the fight ensued. Rocky’s defense lawyer commented to the press on his behalf stating, the group “didn’t want any trouble,” and “He has been harassed in the past — the bodyguard made the assessment that these people (Jafari and his friend) should move on — and not to come close.”
Swedish prosecutors for the case, want to paint an alternative narrative, by showing videos in court, also taken at the scene, exposing the group’s responsibility for starting the altercation. Prosecutor Daniel Suneson specified, “The artist is the one who threw the victim to the ground and then, together with two other suspects, dealt him blows and kicks.” They also intended to prove that there was excessive force being used by Mayers’ team for throwing a glass bottle at the alleged victim.
These videos have not surfaced yet to the public. Meaning that we can only speculate about the evidence which will play a major role for the outcome of this trial.
There are followers of A$AP Rocky who blame the issue of known systemic racism in Sweden, as reasoning for the pursuit of this harsher punishment. G-Eazy, a White American rapper first suggested this by comparing this case to his own arrest in Sweden. Posting, “The difference between me and Rocky’s treatment and process in Sweden brings to mind two concepts — white privilege and systemic racism. Let’s call it what it is.”
While in Sweden, last year, G-Eazy was arrested and charged with assault, possession of drugs, and use of narcotics. There was no video of the assault. Although, he was given a plea deal anyway by prosecutors, was released after one-and-a-half days for the crime and paid a 10k fine. Mayers has been detained for three weeks after surrendering to authorities on July 2, because he was seen as a “possible flight risk” by the judge and might try to evade punishment by leaving the country.
Another injustice raised by a petition for Rocky stated, “Upon being detained, Rocky was denied his request to counsel which is in violation of Article 36 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, to which Sweden is a signatory.”
Those who have rallied around in support of A$AP Rocky, do so, not because of his wealthy status, but because they are aware of the nonstop over-policing of people of colour. Which when gone unnoticed can lead to serious cases of injustice.
Unfortunately, Sweden does not have a squeaky-clean reputation against racism of their Black and minority communities. “The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination” issued a report, “last year expressing concern for the rising levels of anti-Black racism in the Nordic country.” This included hate speech directed towards Afro-Swedes, with the widespread use of the “n-word” becoming more problematic.
A$AP Rocky continues to receive massive amounts of support from his fanbase, our only hope is that he is receiving fair and equal treatment throughout this court proceeding. The trial is set to continue today, where witnesses will be expected to testify.