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 and he ran event security at Philips Arena. Now, he’s suing the team for wrongfully firing him after he brought up claims of discrimination against Black celebrities at the arena. Hayes says that since he started working for the Hawks, who runs the arena, he’s noticed Black celebs go through more rigorous security checks than White celebs.
On August 26, Drake and Future performed at Philips Arena and asked to bypass metal detectors, but they were denied. A week later, rock band AC/DC made the same request when they were entering the venue. Their request was granted. The pattern continued with folks like Kanye West, Migos, 2 Chainz, Cedric the Entertainer, Eddie Griffen, and Tyler Perry 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 the metal detectors.
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 and The Hawks are prepared to defend themselves telling TMZ Sports, “[Samuel Hayes] was terminated for poor performance and his claims are baseless.”
We’ll keep you updated as more news surfaces on the case.