Jerome Almon responded to Canadian border issues with a $900-million lawsuit [Article]
In light of this weeks border crossing issues, we’ve decided to revist the case of Jerome Almon and revisit the coverage from the mid-2000′s. Back in 2007, Jerome Almon, CEO of Detroit/Toronto-based Murdercap Records sued Canadian immigration officials over alleged “wholesale profiling” of rappers and African-Americans by Canadian border officials. He had previously filed a Human Rights complaint in 2004 and was listed as the the first and only American to ever be called before the Canadian Human Rights Commission. CBC and various other outlets have covered his story over the years. Click the jump for more reports about the lawsuit and the people it involved that included 50 Cent, Collin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, Jay-Z, Spike Lee and more.
Update: The mainstream media never followed up on the case. People with knowledge of the case have indicated, “nothing happened with his lawsuit.” LiveAGL.com has previously reported that the Canadian government defaulted on the lawsuit. Click here for details.
Detroit rapper sues over alleged Canadian border hassles
Detroit, MI – The owner of a hip-hop record label based in Detroit says he has launched a lawsuit against Canadian immigration officials over alleged racial profiling of black hip-hop stars. [More]
Jerome Almon names 95 border guards and two former federal ministers of immigration, Denis Coderre and Elinor Caplan, in the lawsuit filed in Michigan last week.
Almon told CBC radio he has been detained and questioned at the border 117 of the last 120 times he crossed into Canada.
He is claiming $900-million US in damages in the suit, saying his right to do business in Canada is being impeded by harassment at the border.
“My complaint is rather simple. I’m alleging that Canada Customs and Immigration are barring me from entering Canada to conduct business because I’m a black rapper from Detroit,” he said.
Almon owns Murdercap Records, a moniker that reflects Detroit’s status as murder capital of the U.S.
He represents Canadian artists and claims to have recorded recent albums in Toronto and Ottawa.
But when Almon tries to cross the border, he is held up for 45 minutes to three hours, he said.
“Their claim is that I have not turned in a police clearance to enter Canada as required by Canada Immigration and that I have a criminal record,” he said.
Almon said he has never been convicted of a criminal offence, but he has been arrested twice and those arrests have stayed on his file.
Earlier appeals have failed to resolve problem: Almon
Appeals to earlier immigration ministers and to the Ontario Human Rights commission have failed to correct the problem, he said.
Although Almon’s lawsuit was launched in Michigan, he cites the Canadian Charter of Rights, which would not apply there. He also says international law protects his right to conduct business.
Almon’s songs include On Ya Neez Bitch and How Stella Got My Backhand.
A female police officer who was called to the border at one attempted crossing listened to the CD and hated the music, he said.
He claims to have the support of Canadian hip-hop artists for his campaign.
Almon has been making public complaints about racial profiling at the border since 2003.
There has been no official response from Canada.
Date: January 17, 2007
Direct: Detroit rapper sues over alleged Canadian border hassles
Is Canada profiling US rappers?
By Elizabeth, Goodman, Rolling Stone
Jerome Almon, CEO of Detroit-based Murdercap Records, has filed a eyebrow-raising $900 million lawsuit in federal court against the Canadian government, the American State Department and U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. The suit, apparently prepared for Almon by the chief of Detroit’s American Civil Liberties Union accuses the defendants of “wholesale profiling” of rap artists and African-Americans.
Almon claims that he can document more than 80 instances between 1992 and 2003 during which he was detained and questioned by border guards while trying to enter Canada. He also says that he was periodically and falsely accused of having a criminal record and that racist comments were directed at him by Canadian officials. But according to Almon, the suit is not being filed solely on his behalf.
Almon reportedly mentioned well-documented incidents in which everyone from DMX to 50 Cent to Eminem have been either refused entry or detained while attempting to enter the country. According to Almon, Canada is engaging in profiling based on a government-held belief that rap music can be blamed for an increase in gang violence and violent homicides in Toronto and Vancouver.
” They’re treating us as if we’re criminals,” Almon said, adding, “If the Klan had a police force, it would be the border services.” The Canadian government has reportedly pointed to a shooting that took place in Toronto in 2003, after a 50 Cent show as an example of the direct connection between rap music and gun violence.
So what’s Condoleezza Rice have to do with this? According to Almon “the State Department has in its possession secret internal Canadian investigative reports admitting that the country is worse at racial profiling than the U.S., yet, Rice has sided with the Canadian government against African Americans in what he says is destined to become ‘The State Department’s Katrina.’”
Almon’s conspiracy theory further alleges that not only is the U.S. State Department aware of Canada’s prejudicial policy, but that it is complicit in a bribery cover-up relating to one of 50 Cent’s aborted Canadian tours.
Further, he alleges that while Canada profiles U.S. rappers, it is protects known Muslim terrorists responsible for U.S. casualties. He also claims Canada has a Rap Intelligence Unit that employs information-sharing with the FBI.
Regardless of how batshit (or not) you find these claims to be, the trial should be fun to follow. Check out this incredible list of alleged witnesses: 50 Cent, Secretary Rice, Jay-Z, P. Diddy, Oprah Winfrey, Colin Powell, Eminem, and Spike Lee.
What do you think? On the one hand these claims sound really outrageous and paranoid, but on the other hand there are facts to back them up. Is there any truth to Almon’s claims?
‘Racial profiling’ at our border
By Elaine O’Connor, Vancouver Province
Passengers from the U.S. enter Canada Customs at Vancouver airport. Border officials say neither race nor status as a gangsta rapper would bar a visitor from entry to Canada.
More than 30 celebrities have been subpoenaed to testify in a $900-million lawsuit against Canadian immigration officials by a Detroit gangsta rapper who is alleging racial profiling at the border.
Jerome Almon, a rapper with The BlakkAttakk, the group responsible for songs such as “On Ya Neez B—-” and “How Stella Got My Backhand,” filed the suit in Michigan’s U.S. district court earlier this year.
This week, 37 witnesses — from rap stars and U.S. celebrities to Canadian federal ministers — were ordered to appear in court Sept. 22. to testify about their treatment by Canadian authorities. Among the witnesses are hip-hop icons Jay-Z, Snoop Dogg, DMX, Diddy, 50 Cent and Eminem.
They will be asked to testify alongside Colin Powell, Oprah Winfrey, Martha Stewart, Mick Jagger, Jenna Jameson, Condoleeza Rice, Heidi Fleiss, Kobe Bryant, Paris Hilton, Keith Richards, Spike Lee, Tom Sizemore and former Taliban officials Mohammed Hassan and Abdul Hanifi.
Former ministers of citizenship and immigration Judy Sgro and Dennis Coderre, retired CCRA minister Elinor Caplan and MP Belinda Stronach were also called, as were the president of Canadian Border Services Agency Alain Joliecour, Toronto Mayor David Miller, former head of the Ontario Human Rights Commission Keith Norton, and Selwyn Pieters, a Toronto lawyer representing racial minorities in human-rights cases.
The suit “seeks redress from Canadian government officials who have violated [Almon's] right to traverse the Canadian border without being repeatedly subjected to unwarranted, protracted and highly punitive detentions and interrogations as well as outright refusals to allow the plaintiff to enter.”
The 41-year-old rapper, known as Slikkfordays, told The Province that “Paris Hilton and Martha Stuart [sic] and Tom Sizemore are the most important witnesses. Those three were chosen because all have criminal convictions and two have done prison time and Paris Hilton has done jail time, but all three entered Canada with impunity.”
Almon said the reason for their swift passage was simple: “They’re white and they’re not rappers.”
He alleges systemic racism among border guards, detailing the slurs of several guards in the suit.
He claims he’s been stopped, turned back or detained 117 times between 1998 and 2004 while travelling between Detroit and Toronto.
He said he’s never been convicted of a criminal offence, but admits to being arrested twice.
Almon points to other incidents of rappers being stopped:
- In 2001 blues musician Wilson Pickett alleged he was strip-searched at the Ottawa airport.
- In January 2003 DMX was refused entry to Canada at Calgary’s airport a week after he was arrested in the U.S. for dangerous driving and providing forged documents.
- Members of 50 Cent’s G-Unit crew were stopped from performing in Vancouver in 2005.
White rappers have also been harassed. In 2000, Ontario Attorney-General Jim Flaherty tried to have Eminem stopped at the border before a Toronto concert, charging his hate-filled lyrics promoted violence against women.
Almon’s group has yet to release an album (their first, Porno Stars, is due in October), and some see the suit as a publicity stunt. The CEO of MurderCap Records, Almon is seeking $900 million in damages.
Federal Canadian Border Services Agency spokesman Derek Mellon said in a
statement: “Our officers are provided with cultural-awareness and diversity training with anti-racism components and do not discriminate according to race, nationality or religion.”
Faith St. John of the B.C. region of CBSA said a person’s religion or race wouldn’t have an effect, nor would their status as a gangsta rapper.
“No, their career would not be a factor.”
Rapper: I’m target of border unit
By Tom Godfrey, Toronto Sun
U.S. rapper Jerome Almon says a secret customs rap intelligence unit is responsible for trying to ban him, 50 Cent, DMX and others from Canada because of their gun-glorifying tunes.
Almon, 30, aka slickfordays, of the band Blakkattakk, said “unit” members were behind a bid last week to ban 50 Cent from Canada because of his music.
The Detroit native has been trying since 2003 to return to Toronto, where he has family and owns a rap label, Murdercap Records, which has a stable of eight artists.
“Customs is saying (rap artists) are contributing to the murder rate and culture of gun violence,” Almon said from Detroit yesterday.
He said even though he doesn’t have a criminal record, he’s been sent for secondary checks 117 of the 120 times he’s crossed into Canada.
“The last time I tried to come up they brought me back in handcuffs,” he said. “They said I’m going to jail next time.”
He’s warned 50 Cent, DMX, Jay-Z and others about the tough Canadian laws, Almon said.
“I think Canada is targeting rappers,” he said. “I can see less rappers travelling up there to perform.”
He said he was banned while travelling to Toronto for a national tour to launch a new CD Porno Star, that included tunes like: Lyin’ Bitch, On Ya Neez Bitch and How Stella Got My Backhand.
“Everything stops when the customs people run my name in their computers,” he said. “Next thing you know there are cops everywhere.”
He said details of the rap unit surfaced in a hearing that was told its members probe the background of rap stars, their criminal records, friends and whom they’re feuding with.
Cara Prest, of the Canada Border Services Agency, said it never comments on specific units.
“We have a lot of intelligence groups that look at a lot of issues but we can’t talk about them,” Prest said.
Source: The Toronto Sun