21 Savage Says He Was "Targeted" By ICE in First Interview Since Detainment
"I don’t feel like you should be arrested and put in a place where a murderer would be for just being in the country for too long," says the Grammy-nominated Atlanta-based rapper.
21 Savage made his first public appearance since he was taken into custody with a sitdown interview that aired on ABC's Good Morning America Friday. The interview found 21 detailing his nine days in detainment, why he feels he was the target of an operation and how the immigration enforcement system is broken.
The 26-year-old said ICE authorities didn't explain to him why he was under arrest when he was pulled over on Super Bowl Sunday. "I don’t even know [what happened]. I was just driving and I just seen guns and blue lights, and then I was in the back of a car and I was gone," he recalled. "They didn’t say nothing. They just said, ‘We got Savage.' It was definitely targeted.”
Savage, born Shayaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, said he had no idea how coming to America at 7 years old and overstaying a visa would impact his adult life. "I didn't know what a visa was. I was seven when I first came here. I didn't know what that meant as far as when I transferred into an adult, how that was going to effect my life," the "A Lot" rapper said. "I wasn't hiding it, but I didn't wanna get deported, so I'm not gonna come out and be like, 'Hey, by the way, I wasn't born here.'"
The London-born MC believes there are better ways to handle immigrations issues, rather than being arrested and thrown behind bars. "I’ve been here 20 years, 19 years," 21 affirmed. "This is all I know, you know what I’m saying? I don’t feel like you should be arrested and put in a place where a murderer would be for just being in the country for too long."
21 Savage missed his Feb. 10 Grammy Awards performance while being detained. Although Post Malone wore a "21 Savage" T-shirt during his performance of their song, “Rockstar,” the awards show was criticized for not making more of a political statement for the detained rapper during the show.
Watch clips from the GMA interview below.
"They said 'We got Savage'" @21Savage tells @LinseyDavis he believes his arrest was targeted when he was pulled over in Atlanta says before the Super Bowl. https://t.co/8XGtNj5gS2 pic.twitter.com/yKREn5GyQ7— Good Morning America (@GMA) February 15, 2019
.@21Savage's lawyers believe this arrest had to do with a music video he released for his song "A Lot" that criticizes immigration policies on the border. https://t.co/8XGtNj5gS2 pic.twitter.com/5xiPoqhfs5— Good Morning America (@GMA) February 15, 2019
"I've been here 20 years. This is all I know." @21Savage says he doesn't believe people should be placed in jail for being in the country too long. Now, he says he wants to bring awareness to immigration policies and the "pain" they are causing people. pic.twitter.com/apstaY2RZI— Good Morning America (@GMA) February 15, 2019
"We believe he was targeted because he's a celebrity and they can use this to send a message." @21Savage's lawyer says the rapper wants to bring awareness and fight for people who don't have the same resources that he does. pic.twitter.com/IuqRfNeGZD— Good Morning America (@GMA) February 15, 2019
A version of this story originally appeared on Billboard.