Heard on the Hill

Rep. Espaillat ‘grateful’ A$AP Rocky is home and detention ordeal is over

Rep. Adriano Espaillat, D-N.Y., has said he believes race played a factor in A$AP Rocky’s treatment in Sweden. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The winding saga of rapper A$AP Rocky’s Swedish detention has finally come to an end, but not before Congress, President Donald Trump, the State Department, Kanye West and Kim Kardashian all had a chance to weigh in.

Swedish authorities said the Harlem rapper and two of his associates are guilty of assault but will face no further jail time after spending almost a month in confinement.

“We are grateful the young men are home and we hope they, along with their families, can move forward and put this ordeal behind them,” said Candace Person, a spokeswoman for Rep. Adriano Espaillat. The congressman, who represents Rocky’s native Harlem, has been actively involved with the case since learning of the detention in early July.

Swedish prosecutors wanted Rocky, whose legal name is Rakim Mayers, to serve six months in jail but “the assault has not been of such a serious nature that a prison sentence must be chosen,” Stockholm judges said in a statement.

Rocky, who was in Stockholm to perform at the Smash music festival, was arrested on July 2 along with co-defendants Bladimir “Bladi” Corniel and David Rispers Jr., following an altercation with two men who had accosted them in the street.

[U.S., Sweden need to move ASAP on Rocky’s detention, Espaillat says]

Espaillat led a group of House lawmakers, including Reps. André Carson, Hakeem Jeffries and Joaquin Castro, in denouncing the Swedish Prosecution authorities for what they considered unfair treatment and deplorable detainment conditions, which included solitary confinement.

“Sweden is going to walk out of this with a black eye,” said Espaillat during a sweltering press conference in July. “They are a country that proposes to the rest of the world that they are a mecca — a haven of democracy and niceties.”

Espaillat said he believed race played a factor in Rocky’s treatment.

“This is not justice,” he said. “And this particular instance sheds light on how men of color, particularly black and brown men, are often detained, targeted and incarcerated despite the innocence, including in European countries.”

Nikita Rispers, cousin of A$AP Rocky and parent of David Rispers, said her son’s arrest caused her anxiety attacks from being “devastated, stressed out mentally, and frustrated.”

At one point U.S.-Sweden relations got so tense that Carl Risch, assistant secretary of State of consular affairs, flew in to monitor the situation.

Even Trump, at the behest of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, called the Swedish prime minister on Rocky’s behalf. The president also took to social media to vent his frustration over the proceedings, tweeting that he was “very disappointed in Prime Minister Stefan Löfven for being unable to act” and that it was somehow a letdown for the “African-American community.”

Trump, whose approval rating among black voters is a measly 6 percent, according to a July Quinnipiac poll, perhaps saw his involvement as a way to score a cheap victory with black voters.

Despite the political pressure, Swedish authorities insisted that the rapper would receive no special treatment and would let the facts of the case determine the outcome.

Rocky and his associates returned to the United States on Aug. 2 following the trial.

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