“With all due respect for the law, this smells bad”, said Swedish record label owner Joel Borg, the man behind the campaign.
Black-and-white posters with the text “Free A$AP Rocky ASAP”, followed by the hashtag #Justiceforrocky have appeared in Stockholm to protest the detention of the rap star on grounds many find dubious.
The campaign was launched by the record label Whoa Dad, which organised the Smash party festival, the reason the US rapper was in Stockholm in the first place. The record label is demanding the artist be released immediately.
“We are happy to put more pressure and focus on a legal case many people are curious about. With all due respect for the law, but Sweden has a system of arrest procedures that has been crticised by independent organisations”, Whoa Dad owner Joel Borg told national broadcaster SVT. “Violence is never OK, period. However, this smells bad. Where are all the media, the police and the prosecutors when it is not a well-known star?” he added.
A$AP Rocky has been detained on suspicion of assault since 5 July. Rocky and his crew were involved a street brawl on 30 June during their stay in Stockholm. The rapper himself claimed he was stalked by “some drug addicts”, while posting a video showing a heated exchange of words with a group of people of non-Swedish descent. A person from his entourage claimed they had been provoked and had “no choice but to defend themselves”.
The detention has sparked outrage both internationally and in Sweden. Over 600,000 people have signed a petition to release the rapper, whereas several artists pledged to boycott Sweden.
According to the website TMZ, A$AP Rocky’s legal hardships reached President Trump himself, owing to Kim Kardashian and Kanye West who lobbied for the White House to get involved in the overseas drama.
Earlier this week, congressmen from members of the African-American congressional Black Caucus held a protest outside of the US Congress, demanding the rapper’s release. One of them, Hakeem Jeffries, called the artist’s arrest “scandalous”.
The US Embassy in Sweden cited a 2018 human rights report, in which Sweden is criticised for having too severe restrictions on foreign-born detainees. The Swedish Foreign Ministry retorted that the Swedish authorities fulfilled its commitment on consular access. Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström stressed that she had “full confidence” in her country’s judicial system.
However, former US Ambassador Mark Brzezinski ventured that Sweden’s handling of the case threatened to tarnish the country’s reputation and even suspected a racist motive in the attack on the rap star.
A$AP Rocky (real name Rakim Myers) was reported to have hired the Swedish PR agency Assefa Communication to handle media inquiries and contacts with the rap star’s management in the US, which is a rare instance for the Swedish legal system.