A Swedish court said Friday that rapper ASAP Rocky will be detained for another week as prosecutors decide whether to formally charge him following a fight last month in downtown Stockholm.
The rapper, born Rakim Mayers, has been in Swedish custody, along with two of his associates, since early July after a June 30 altercation that Rocky’s supporters say he tried to avoid. Under the court’s decision Friday, the men could be detained until at least July 25.
Concerns have mounted for the men amid reports that they are being held in “inhumane conditions,” including long daily periods of solitary confinement. A growing number of lawmakers and celebrities, including Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, has called for their release.
President Trump discussed Rocky’s situation Friday morning in the Oval Office, according to a White House pool report, and later tweeted that he had spoken to West about Rocky’s situation. “I will be calling the very talented Prime Minister of Sweden to see what we can do about helping A$AP Rocky,” he wrote. “So many people would like to see this quickly resolved!”
TMZ first posted video of what the gossip site called a “vicious fight” July 1. But the site later followed up with another video that showed the rapper confronting the men who appeared to be following him and his associates, including a bodyguard. “Chill, go somewhere,” Rocky says in the video, which was posted to the rapper’s Instagram account. “We didn’t want trouble, they followed us for 4 blocks,” he wrote alongside the video.
A news release posted to the website for the Swedish Prosecution Authority notes that the “Stockholm District Court has granted the prosecutor more time to continue the preliminary investigation of the case concerning the American artist who has been detained since 5 July on probable cause on suspicion of assault in Stockholm.” The release cites the prosecutor’s concern that the rapper is a flight risk as the reason behind his extended detention.
A group of lawmakers demanded Rocky’s release in a news conference this week, amid the reports of “inhumane conditions.”
Reps. Adriano Espaillat (D-N.Y.), Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), André Carson (D-Ind.) and Joaquin Castro (D-Tex.) again demanded the rapper’s release Thursday in a statement ahead of Rocky’s pretrial hearing. “We remain deeply concerned about the detainment of Rakim Mayers, also known as A$AP Rocky, and his two companions David Rispers Jr., and Bladimir Corniel. All three of these gentlemen are not only American citizens, they are young men of color,” the congressmen said.
“The widely circulated video evidence clearly show that these men were accosted, harassed, and followed, all while maintaining tremendous poise,” the statement continues. “Even after they were initially attacked, they made verifiable efforts to remove themselves from the situation. Unfortunately, it escalated to the point where they were forced to defend themselves.”
In a call with reporters Friday, Espaillat — whose district includes Rocky’s native Harlem — called the court’s decision “disturbing.” He said he and other lawmakers are also worried that the prosecutor has already made his decision. “We’re concerned that there is a deliberate and premeditated attempt from the prosecutor to indict these young men, who were victims themselves, not the aggressors,” he said.
Espaillat also praised Kardashian and West, who has collaborated with Rocky in the past, for appealing to the White House on the rapper’s behalf. A person familiar with the situation confirmed to The Washington Post Thursday that Kardashian reached out to Jared Kushner — a top adviser and son-in-law of President Trump — with whom she has coordinated on criminal justice reform efforts.
In the Oval Office Friday, Trump said that “many, many members of the African American community have called me, friends of mine, and said, ‘Could you help?’“ Noting that he does not know the rapper personally, Trump said Rocky “has tremendous support from the African American community in this country.”
“And when I say African American, I think I can really say from everybody in this country,” Trump added. “Because we are all one.”
Trump said first lady Melania Trump was the one who first brought the issue to his attention. Standing at his side, the first lady said, “We are working with the State Department, and we hope to get him home soon.”
The Associated Press, citing Sweden’s TT News Agency, reported that Carl Risch, U.S. assistant secretary of state for consular affairs, was seen Friday at the Stockholm prison where Rocky and his associates are being held. The State Department announced Risch’s trip earlier this week, but did not specifically mention Rocky’s case.
The Rev. Al Sharpton, who discussed the rapper’s case with Espaillat in an MSNBC segment this week, has also pledged his support for Rocky, who has been criticized in the past for his comments on activism. An adviser for Sharpton’s National Action Network spoke at Wednesday’s news conference.
Espaillat told reporters Friday that he would coordinate with Sharpton as he and his fellow lawmakers plan mobilization efforts in support of the rapper. Asked whether he believed the rapper’s situation is racially motivated, the congressman echoed comments he made at Wednesday’s news conference.
“I’ve always said that race matters no matter where you are across the world,” Espaillat said, noting that other rappers — including Migos member Quavo — have said they have been mistreated by Swedish police. “I leave it to the general public to make their own conclusion."