Black artists are under heavy surveillance at the Philips Arena in Atlanta, according to a former security manager. Home to the Atlanta Hawks, the Philips Arena draws many celebrities and musicians to perform. However, while some stars are able to bypass security, others are not, and race might play a big part.
Sam Hayes was the security manager for the Atlanta Hawks who ran event security at Philips Arena. Now, he’s suing the team for wrongfully firing him after alleged Black celebrities were discriminated against at the arena. Hayes says that since he started working for the Hawks, who run the arena, he’s noticed Black celebs go through more rigorous security checks than White ones.
On August 26, Drake and Future performed at Philips Arena and asked to bypass metal detectors, but were denied. A week later, rock band AC/DC made the same request and their request was granted. The pattern continued with folks like Kanye West, Migos, 2 Chainz, Cedric the Entertainer, Eddie Griffin, and Tyler Perry all having to go through metal detectors. On the other hand, folks like Bon Jovi, Amy Schumer, Ariana Grande and the WWE Live Tour were able to bypass them.
Hayes says he reached his limit when in April 2017 a Black security officer told a White member of Radiohead‘s crew to walk through a metal detector. The crew member responded by mockingly dropping his pants. Hayes said a White employee intervened and let the crew member bypass the detector.
Hayes says that when he told management about the incident, they said, “Hip hop acts draw a different crowd and the white acts bring in more money.” Hayes says he was fired for bringing the racial issues to light. His superiors however, said he was let go for reprimanding lower level staffers without first consulting Human Resources.
Hayes is now suing for unspecified damages. he Hawks are prepared to defend themselves, telling TMZ Sports, “[Samuel Hayes] was terminated for poor performance and his claims are baseless.”
This is not the first time the Hawks have been involved in a racial incident. In 2014, their GM, Danny Ferry, was recorded talking disparagingly about and African player. And the team’s controlling owner, Bruce Levenson, sold his interest in the Hawks after an email surfaced that indicated the Hawks wanted to attract a whiter audience to the arena.
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