Junk Explained: What The Hell Is Going On With A$AP Rocky?
A$AP Rocky has been detained in Sweden for three weeks, and now Donald Trump's on his side, and Justin Bieber's against Donald Trump?
UPDATE THURSDAY AUGUST 15: A$AP Rocky and two of his co-conspirators, Bladimir Corniel and David Rispers, have been found guilty of assault. They have each been handed down a two-year suspended sentence.
A suspended sentence is, in some respects, the best that Rocky could have hoped for. It means that none of the three conspirators will go to prison. Instead, they will be put on a two-year probation: if they commit a crime during that period, they will serve time for this incident, as well as any additional time gained by the second crime.
Additionally, Rocky has been ordered to pay a fine to the victim.
“I am of course disappointed by today’s verdict,” the rapper wrote on Instagram. “I want to say thanks again to all of my fans, friends, and everyone who shoved me love during this difficult time.”
Wonder if that means Donald Trump?
Read on for more information on the history of the case.
UPDATE FRIDAY 26 JULY: Rocky and two conspirators were changed with “assault causing actual bodily harm” on Thursday, as per the Associated Press.
The prosecutor disputes Rocky and co’s claim of self-defence, stating, “It is worth noting that I have had access to a greater amount of material than that which has previously been available on the internet. In addition to video material, the injured party’s statements have been supported by witness statements.”
It’s expected that the trial will go for three days and begin Tuesday 30 July, though the date will be announced next week. The maximum sentence is two years in prison.
In response, US president Donald Trump has tweeted that he is “very disappointed” and that “Sweden has let down our African American community”.
Very disappointed in Prime Minister Stefan Löfven for being unable to act. Sweden has let our African American Community down in the United States. I watched the tapes of A$AP Rocky, and he was being followed and harassed by troublemakers. Treat Americans fairly! #FreeRocky
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 25, 2019
He followed it with a second tweet: “Give A$AP Rocky his FREEDOM. We do so much for Sweden but it doesn’t seem to work the other way around. Sweden should focus on its real crime problem!”
Over the past three weeks, US rapper A$AP Rocky has popped up repeatedly in headlines after he was arrested while on tour in Sweden. Now that Justin Bieber, Kim and Kanye, and Donald Trump are involved, the story can seem a little too deep to dive in.
Here’s a quick cheat-sheet for what’s going on with A$AP Rocky, as the rapper enters his third week of detainment.
Why Was A$AP Rocky Arrested?
On June 31, A$AP Rocky and friends allegedly fought two men in the streets of Stockholm — in a video posted by TMZ the day after, Rocky appears to throw a man across a street before he and others kick him while he’s down. Authorities also say the man was cut with broken bottles.
On July 3, Rocky turned himself in to authorities for suspected “gross assault”. Three weeks later, the rapper continues to be detained by police, who are waiting for the investigation to finish before they begin a trial.
Two others with Rocky at the time were also arrested but have been released, with a judge determining only Rocky to be a flight risk.
An investigation is underway into the behaviour of the two men, but neither has been arrested.
The day of his arrest, the US rapper posted two videos on Instagram in which the two men follow him and his friends through the streets during the day.
In the videos, Rocky’s group can be repeatedly heard telling the men to go away and that “no one wants to fight”. Part of the video is cut, and we then see the two men with Rocky’s bodyguard down the street, when one man takes his headphones and throws them at the bodyguard.
By Rocky’s video, the men appear to continue following, saying the bodyguard ruined their headphones. In one moment, we see Rocky calmly tell them to “go away” and that “nobody wants to go to jail” — the men continue to follow them through the largely empty streets.
“Just for the cameras, we don’t want no problems with these boys.,” Rocky says directly to the camera. “They keep following us.”
In the caption, Rocky says the men followed them for four blocks and had assaulted women by slapping their backsides as they walked past — an off-camera voice towards the end of the video alleges this.
“Give me a break,” Rocky writes.
Why Has A$AP Rocky Been Detained For Three Weeks?
Rocky has been detained since July 3 in a holding ground — at first, he was held for two weeks, but it has been extended to up to July 25 after the investigation team asked for more time.
Sweden’s legal system does not offer bail, and being held before a trial is a common practice. This is why Rocky is not in prison, but a specific holding ground known as a häkte.
According to Rocky’s manager John Ehmann, the conditions of the facility are “horrific”. On July 10, Ehmann posted a statement to Instagram alleging that Rocky was subject to “24/7 solitary confinement, restriction of amenities for the most basic of human functions, lack of access to life-sustaining food as well as unsanitary conditions.”
These claims have been denied by the prison’s governor.
Ehmann also wrote that the US embassy consult had been unlawfully rejected from visiting Rocky, and supreme court challenges to have Rocky removed were rejected.
“For a man that has not been proven guilty to go through these conditions, while visiting a country to headline their festival, is troublesome,” he wrote. “To keep Rocky and his colleagues in jail is punishment before due process.”
Ehmann also says he was informed that it’s likely Rocky will be detained until the trial begins in either mid- or towards the end of August.
Previously, civil rights groups have lobbied the UN to demand Sweden create a maximum time for how long people can be detained pre-trial.
While Rocky’s defence team argue that the fight was in self-defence, Sweden’s laws surrounding assault differ from the US, with strict lines of what is and isn’t an appropriately proportionate response.
How Are Kim Kardashian-West, Justin Bieber And Donald Trump Involved?
In the subsequent weeks after Rocky’s arrest, a heap of music acts have lent their support to him on social media, including Tyler, The Creator, Diddy, Nicki Minaj, Post Malone and Shawn Mendez.
no more sweden for me, ever
— Tyler, The Creator (@tylerthecreator) July 8, 2019
Rapper G-Eazy, who was arrested over cocaine possession and assault in Sweden last year but let go a day and a half after being arrested, has called the differences between his treatment and Rocky’s “disgusting”, calling it case-in-proof of white privilege and systemic racism.
A Change.org petition demanding that Sweden release Rocky currently has 623,000+ signatures, and a hashtag, #JusticeForRocky, has taken off online.
The US State Department is now monitoring Rocky’s case, and in a statement, said they hope to see him outside of the holding centre soon.
Not content with that, Kim Kardashian-West and Kanye West got involved and contacted White House advisor and friend Jared Kushner. On July 20, Trump tweeted he’d talked to Kanye about A$AP, following it up on Sunday by saying he’d spoken to Prime Minister Stefan Löfven and “offered to personally vouch for his bail”, despite Sweden not taking bail.
Just had a very good call with @SwedishPM Stefan Löfven who assured me that American citizen A$AP Rocky will be treated fairly. Likewise, I assured him that A$AP was not a flight risk and offered to personally vouch for his bail, or an alternative….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 20, 2019
Meanwhile, Justin Bieber responded to Trump’s tweet asking, “while you’re at it, can you also let those kids out of cages?” — referring to currently detention centres in the US detaining children for days if not weeks without their parents.
I want my friend out.. I appreciate you trying to help him. But while your at it @realDonaldTrump can you also let those kids out of cages?
— Justin Bieber (@justinbieber) July 20, 2019
As a complete aside, A$AP Rocky calls Trump a “fucking asshole” on ‘Distorted Records’, the opener of his 2018 album Testing.
In Sweden, detainment can continue indefinitely on a two-week basis, though as reported, Rocky’s manager has stated he’s been told by prosecutors to expect a mid- to late-August trial. The next check-in for the investigation is Thursday 25 July, meaning Rocky could be released in a few days.
Rocky currently has tour dates lined up for the 26-28 July in France and Belgium, with festival slots across Europe for the rest of August.
Donald Trump has stated he’ll be speaking to the Swedish Prime Minister within days and would continue to work with the state department on Rocky’s release. Swedish officials have remained steadfast in rejecting claims about their facility conditions, and repeatedly state Rocky’s treatment has been and will continue to be no different from any other detainee.
Jared Richards is a staff writer at Junkee, and co-host of Sleepless In Sydney on FBi Radio. Follow him on Twitter.